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The application process for a work permit is normally related to a visa application. For example, a foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen may want to work while being in the U.S. on the K-1 visa or while waiting to adjust status to a Green Card holder. The foreign spouse should then apply for a work permit to legally work in the United States. In most cases, the work permit can be filed concurrently with the visa application. However, there is no automatic link between getting a visa and being allowed to work. This is an important concept to understand. You may successfully obtain a visa, enter the United States, but work illegally if you assume that a visa equals a work permit. If you are found to work illegally in the United States, you may deported, fined, or both.
U.S. citizens and Green Card holders do not need to obtain a work permit in the United States. A U.S. citizen can prove his or her citizenship with a passport, passport card or birth certificate. A U.S. citizen can apply for almost any job in the United States, as long as they qualify. A Green Card holder will have an Alien Registration Card (Green Card), which serves as proof of being able to legally work in the United States. The Green Card is also a work permit. Green Card holders can apply for most jobs in the United States, however, certain jobs require U.S. citizenship.