Keep Working While Your Work Permit is Pending – What You Need to Know

Hola mi gente! It’s your immigration attorney Luis Ruiz, here today. I want to talk about a question that keeps coming up as immigration cases get more and more delayed. I’m getting this question almost every week now.

My work permit expired or is about to expire, I applied to renew it, but I need to keep working. Can I continue working, or what should I do?

Well, mi gente, the work permit is the document that immigration grants you which gives you legal permission to work here in the United States.

It comes on a little card and tells you the dates it is valid and the category under which they granted you the work permit.

The issue is that processes that used to take 1-3 months to renew a work permit (timeframe varies by category) are now taking 6-9 months or even longer. Immigration is very backlogged.

So I recommend you apply to renew your permit 6 months before it expires, because immigration is so delayed right now.

What If I Already Applied to Renew My Permit, But It Hasn’t Arrived Yet?

I already sent in my renewal application, but I haven’t gotten it back yet. My permit expired – do I have to stop working?

Under certain categories, immigration has an automatic 180-day extension.

For example, if your work permit says Category C9, which is for people adjusting status – applying for a green card, it automatically extends 180 days.

So if your permit expiration date passed, you have 180 more days to keep working as long as you applied on time to renew your permit.

But not all categories have this automatic extension.

For instance, Category C31, which is for DACA recipients, does not have an extension.

We had a client last month whose DACA expired in 5 days. We did everything possible, talking to a congresswoman, to get her work permit approved before the one she had expired. With just 5 days left on her valid work permit, we had applied 3 months prior, but thank God her new permit was approved in time. She never lost her status and could keep working without issues, mi gente.


  • Monitor your work permit expiration date closely so you can renew on time
  • If you need help, you know who to call – I’m your immigration attorney, Luis Ruiz!

Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional details to add. I aimed for an easy-to-understand, conversational tone with helpful information for clients.