【Not a Combo Card?】Complete Guide to Applying and Receiving the U.S. EAD/Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document): Time Required and Details of The Center

The journey of applying for an EAD/Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document) can be complex and time-consuming. This article provides a detailed explanation of my entire EAD application process, introducing the time and the center I mailed to involved. Additionally, I will explain the differences between a Combo Card and a Standalone EAD.


  • June 2023
    Arrived in the United States on a K-1 visa
  • July 2023
    Got married
  • Aug 2023
    Applied for Adjustment of Status (AOS).
  • Aug 2023
    Visited the Japanese Embassy to give them the notice of marrage
  • Aug 2023
    Received Notification of Acceptance of AOS Documents
  • Sep 2023
    Recieved NOA1(Form I-485、I-864、I-765)
  • Sep 2023
    Received Biometrics Appointment Schedule
  • Sep 2023
    Received Request for Evidence (RFE) Regarding Form I-864
  • Sep 2023
    Attended Scheduled Biometrics Appointment
  • Nov 2023
    Submited Documents Requested in the RFE (Request for Evidence)
  • Nov 2023
    Received Notification of Receipt of Additional Documents for RFE form USCIS
  • 🌸Jan 2024
    Received EAD/Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)D

It took about 5 months from the day I sent off the AOS (Adjustment of Status) paperwork to receiving the card in hand! Was it surprisingly quick?
During this period, there was an RFE (Request for Evidence) for my I-485, which put my case on hold. I wonder if I would have received it sooner had there been no RFE?

You can find more information on the additional submissions for the RFE in the following article.

Where was the center to which the AOS (Adjustment of Status) was sent?

As I reside in Virginia, the jurisdiction center for my area is located in Illinois at the following address.

USCIS Elgin Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

Attn: AOS
P.O. Box 4109
Carol Stream, IL 60197-4109

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: AOS (Box 4109)
2500 Westfield Drive
Elgin, IL 60124-7836

Please check here to confirm the center where you should send your AOS (Adjustment of Status).

While observing others’ AOS journeys, I noticed many who applied several months after me have already received their PR (Permanent Residence) or Combo Cards. These individuals were residing in California. However, even for those living in California, the jurisdiction is the same as Illinois, though the address is different.

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

Attn: AOS
P.O. Box 805887
Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: AOS (Box 805887)
131 S. Dearborn St., 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

I never imagined there could be such a difference in processing times, even though the same state oversees the jurisdiction.

A Japanese friend of mine, also living in Virginia, received their Combo Card after about six months. While I can only compare our two cases, it seems that in Virginia, it might take around six months from application to receipt. It might be a good idea to start job hunting or studying for career advancement in advance, keeping this timeline in mind.

About Case Tracker Update

There is a slight time difference between the USCIS website and the CASE Tracker. One day before receiving this star notification, I checked on the USCIS website and found that the PDF had already been added to the documents. The next day, a star appeared on my CASE Tracker.

Then, After 1.5 days, I received a notice from the App.

Approximately one week after receiving that notification, I received the card. The photo taken during my Biometrics appointment was used as the profile picture. I was surprised, as I thought the passport photo I had sent would be used.

It Was Not A Combo Card

You might often see people who have received the so-called Combo Card, which includes both the I-765 (Employment Authorization) and I-131 (Travel Document). However, in my case, it was Standalone. Only the EAD was approved, and the card was sent to my home address.

There is a way to check whether you’re getting a Combo Card or just the EAD before the card arrives.

In the case of a Combo: When you click on the ‘Document’ button on the USCIS website, there will be a PDF file. If the name of the file is ‘I-765 C09 Combo Approval.pdf‘, then it’s a Combo Card.

In the case of Standalone: If the file is named ‘I-765 C09 Standalone Approval.pdf’, then it’s the same case as mine, with only the EAD. For the I-131 (Travel Document), you’ll still need to wait.

Referring to other people’s posts, it’s often seen that when checking the status of the I-131 (Travel Document) on the USCIS online system, it frequently shows ‘CASE CLOSED‘, but there is no need to worry at this point.

Typically, a few days later, the I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) gets approved.

When you check the approval PDF, it usually indicates that a Combo Card (which includes both employment authorization and travel document) has been issued. Then, a few days after that, the actual card would be mailed to the applicant’s home. This process seems to be common among many applicants. I haven’t yet seen a case where the I-131 (Travel Document) is marked as CASE CLOSED and only standalone approval is given, but I would appreciate it if anyone could share such an experience.