What is the Difference Between an EAD and Labor Certification?

It is important to note that a Labor Certification – sometimes referred to as a labor certificate – and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) are two independent concepts, each with its own governances.

A Labor Certificate is a document issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). It is a prerequisite for an immigration petition for some employment-based categories. Additionally, Labor Certification is a process by which a U.S. employer seeks a Labor Certificate from the DOL for the benefit of a prospective alien employee. In the Labor Certification process, the US employer is the petitioner and the prospective employee is the beneficiary. A Labor Certificate does not grant an alien the right to work in the U.S., while an EAD does. Labor Certification merely shows that there are insufficient U.S. workers to fill a position and thus the green card process can continue. Labor Certification allows an alien worker to eventually gain permanent resident status, but does not grant the right to work by itself.

The EAD is a work permit for some eligible aliens issued by the USCIS. In the application process for an EAD, the alien is the applicant as well as the beneficiary. The EAD is not employer-specific. The holder of an EAD can work for any employer in the United States.