Immigration Employment Related

Non-Immigrant Volunteering

  • Information

    While the issue of volunteering may seem simple- “I’m not getting paid, so that means I am volunteering”- it is actually a complex area where immigration regulations and labor laws intersect. If you are interested in volunteering, you must be aware of the relevant regulations so that you do not violate any laws and participate in unauthorized employment.

    Employment or Volunteering

    What is the difference between an employee and a volunteer? A common misconception is that the only difference is employees get paid and volunteers do not.

    According to U.S. labor laws, there is more to distinguish between employees and volunteers than whether an individual receives a regular paycheck. Work that is unpaid may still be considered employment for visa holders.

    What is an employee? The definition of an employee used in the context of immigration regulations is as follows: “An individual who provides services or labor for an employer for wages or other remuneration”. Please note that the term “remuneration” is very broad and includes a variety of non-monetary benefits, such as free housing, food, gifts, etc.

    What is a volunteer? According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is: an “individual who performs hours of service… for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.”

    To be considered a volunteer, the work performed by the individual must meet the following criteria:

           No expectation of compensation

           The volunteer cannot displace a genuine employee,

           The services provided by the volunteer should not be the same services for which he or she was previously paid and/or expects to be hired and paid for in the future

           Services are performed for a non-profit organization for public service, religious or humanitarian objective.

           Work at a for-profit entity is considered employment and must be for pay. The only exception is made for training programs where the trainee functions, to some degree, like an employee, but is under close supervision and provides no significant measurable work for the employer. The trainee must not take the place of a paid employee. For example, students who are considered student interns may engage in unpaid internships at for-profit organizations.



    Volunteering or Unpaid Internship

    Please note that there is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship.

    As explained above, volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. Non-Immigrant are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the above criteria. For example, it would be okay to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, charitable food pantry, or American Red Cross.

    Unpaid internships, on the other hand, do not usually qualify as “volunteer” activity. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and related to the intern’s major field of study.

    U.S. Department of Labor Rules for Volunteering

    U.S. Department of Labor is concerned both with the protection of jobs for United States citizens, and with the prevention of exploitation of workers. They have created laws to ensure that employment that should be paid is not done for free. While both you and the employer may be happy with an unpaid arrangement (for example, you may be eager to work even on an unpaid basis in a company in order to gain job experience), this may be considered an unfair arrangement in cases where the work is normally performed by a paid person and both the company and the employee are benefitting from the employment.

    To determine whether an individual is a true volunteer engaged in “ordinary volunteerism,” the Department of Labor considers a number of factors. No single factor is determinative. The factors include:

           Is the entity that will benefit/receive services from the volunteer a nonprofit organization?

           Is the activity less than a full-time occupation?

           Are the services offered freely and without pressure or coercion?

           Are the services of the kind typically associated with volunteer work?

           Have regular employees been displaced to accommodate the volunteer?

           Does the worker receive (or expect) any benefit from the entity to which it is providing services?

    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Policy for Volunteering

    The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Policy for volunteering is based on the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security guidelines. UTRGV Handbook of Operating Procedures - Volunteer Service has the following definition of a university volunteer:

Social Security 

  • Social Security Overview

    To help ensure that only those who should receive a number do so, Social Security has taken extra steps to ensure the integrity of Social Security numbers. The changes to the way Social Security assigns numbers and issues cards may cause a delay of several weeks or months in receiving a number. This fact sheet addresses employer responsibilities when hiring foreign workers (e.g., students or cultural exchange visitors) who have applied for and are waiting to receive a Social Security number and card. Note that the employee may work while the Social Security number application is being processed. Employer Responsibilities When Hiring Foreign Workers 

    Does a noncitizen need a Social Security number?

    Unless you are a noncitizen who wants to work in the United States, you probably don’t need a

    Social Security number. Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens

Texas Department of Public Safety - (DL and USCIS/SAVE)

  • Driver License/ID

    To reduce the risk of identity theft, enhance security and protect the integrity of the licensing process, individuals must present one document from the appropriate category below to verify their U.S. citizenship or lawful presence status.

    When at the driver license office, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) will verify the period of lawful presence with the USCIS/SAVE. A driver license or ID card cannot be issued until the period of lawful presence is verified by USCIS/SAVE. If the CSR is unable to immediately verify the information electronically, the individual will be given instructions on what to do next.

    Please see the Verifying Lawful Presence guide for more information on the different immigration statuses, whether or not each group is eligible for a driver license or ID card and the specific documents needed to apply.

    NOTE: The “Verifying Lawful Presence” is for informational purposes only and does not ensure a driver license or ID card will be issued. Select the following link to download more information on How to Complete Lawful Presence Verification.

  • Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements - SAVE Program

    The SAVE Program provides a fast, secure and efficient verification service for federal, state and local benefit-granting agencies to verify a benefit applicant’s immigration status or naturalized/derived citizenship.

    SAVE is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, and is dedicated to providing program support and customer service to participating agencies.

    Throughout this website USCIS - SAVE Program you will find useful information about the SAVE Program and how it works.

Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9

  • Employment Eligibility Verification Overview

    Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form. On the form, an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. The employee must also present his or her employer with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization. The employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9. Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

    Acceptable Documents

    Employees must provide documentation to their employers to show their identity and authorization to work.

    The following I-9 Acceptable Documents link have information about the kinds of documents that employers may accept from employees to complete 


  • E-Verify Overview

    U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States – either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization. This diverse workforce contributes greatly to the vibrancy and strength of our economy, but that same strength also attracts unauthorized employment.

    E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify is fast, free and easy to use – and it’s the best way employers can ensure a legal workforce.

    E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.

Alien’s Change of Address Form AR-11
  • Alien’s Change of Address Overview

    Most non-U.S. citizens must report a change of address within 10 days of moving within the United States or its territories. Exceptions include:

    • Diplomats (visa status A),
    • Official government representatives to an international organization (visa status G), and
    • Certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the U.S. for less than 30 days.

    AR-11, Alien's Change of Address Card

USCIS - Case Status Online
  • Case Status Online Overview

     Track your application or petition as it moves through the immigration process.

    Enter your Receipt Number at Case Status Online

International Taxes
  • Payroll

    UTRGV’ Payroll and Tax Compliance - The Payroll Office functions under the Financial Services/Comptroller, Accounting and Reporting team, part of the Finance and Administration division at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).The Mission of the Payroll Office is to provide exceptional customer service to UTRGV University students, faculty and staff across all campuses. Please contact Anabel Pina regarding taxes for foreign nationals.

    Glossary of U.S. Tax terms for Internationals

    Calendar Year: Internationals in the U.S. for even only one day between January 1 and December 31 of any given year are considered to be in the U.S. for a “calendar year.” Example: internationals arriving in the U.S. on December 30, 2015, although in the U.S. for only two days in 2015, for U.S. tax purposes were in the U.S. for one calendar year.

    Compensation: This is any payment made in exchange for services performed. Payment might include cash, reduced tuition or rent, partial board, or other method of payment. Among other categories, compensation can be earned by anyone who is an employee, an intern, or a contractor.

    Deduction or Exemption: This is an amount of money you may be permitted to deduct from your total taxable income when calculating how much tax you must pay.

    FICA Tax: Also known as the “Social Security tax,” FICA is the composite of a retirement pension and medical benefits tax on employers and employees.

    Foreign-Source Income: Income from sources outside the U.S. For nonresident aliens for tax purposes, this income type is not taxable; only U.S.-source income is taxable. See Publication 519, Table 2-1 to determine whether income is foreign- or U.S.-source.

    Form 1040NR: Nonresident aliens for tax purposes are required to use this form if claiming dependents, tax treaty, or other exemptions or deductions, or if U.S.-source annual income was over $100,000.

    Form 1040NR-EZ: Nonresident aliens for tax purposes who meet the qualifications may use this "easy" form. 

    Form 1042-S: Form issued to researchers, teachers, and students to report amounts, whether or not exempt from tax under an income tax treaty, that were paid to internationals even if no amount was withheld. Usually these amounts are the result of income earned from scholarships, fellowships, or grants, but they may also be compensation for personal services.

    Form 1095-A, -B, or -C: These are Health Care information Forms for Individuals relevant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Nonresident Aliens for tax purposes do not need to meet ACA requirements, whereas resident aliens for tax purposes must.

    Form 1098-T: Form 1098-T is an official statement from an institution of higher education documenting how much was paid on a student’s behalf for tuition and fees.

    Form 1099-Int: Form 1099-Int is a bank statement listing the amount of interest earned.

    Form 8833: Form 8833 is an official document used to claim tax treaty benefits.

    Form 8843: All IRS-defined nonresident aliens for tax purposes must complete this form. It declares that—

    • An international is exempt from having to take the substantial presence test, or
    • An international falls below the minimum number of days needed to establish substantial presence.

    In either case, without substantial presence, an international must file tax documents as a nonresident alien for tax purposes. Form 8843 does NOT declare exemption from having to file tax returns or pay taxes. (See IRS Publication 519 for details.)

    Form I-94: Form I-94 is the Arrival/Departure record (previously paper card stapled into passports; now mostly automated). The date indicated on this form is the date on which authorization to stay in the U.S. expires. Most internationals in F-1 or J-1 statuses have “D/S” indicated rather than a specific end date. “D/S” means “duration of status” or that stay in the U.S. is authorized indefinitely if the international continues to comply with U.S. immigration law.

    Form W-2: Issued by employers in January of the current year stating the amount of wages earned during the prior tax year.

    Form W-4: Employees complete this form upon accepting employment to tell employers how much tax to withhold. Unlike U.S. citizens and permanent residents, internationals filing as nonresident aliens cannot decide how much to have withheld. They must follow special rules for completing Form W‑4 found in IRS Publication 519, page 40.

    Form W‑8BEN: Form W‑8BEN notifies U.S. institutions that persons are IRS-defined nonresident aliens, or that they are claiming U.S. tax treaty benefits on scholarships, fellowships, and other types of income.

    Grant: Used to describe fellowships or scholarships. An amount to support study, training, or research, but does not represent compensation for any required service (such as teaching or research).

    I‑94 Status: This is the nonimmigrant classification indicated on the Form I‑94 (it usually but not always echoes the classification of the visa stamp used to enter the U.S.). This is “your status”—e.g., H-1B, J‑1, etc.

    Interest Income: Interest from a bank account or certain other US sources (for details, see IRS Publication 519: U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens). Bank interest is not taxable, and IRS-defined nonresident aliens should not report it.

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The U.S. federal government authority charged with enforcing tax laws.

    Itemized Deductions: If you file the 1040NR, you may list specific expenses within the guidelines of IRS Publication 519 and deduct these expenses from your taxable income.

    Medicare Deductions: A significant part of what is known as the FICA tax. Medicare Deductions are imposed on wages and salaries and credited to a combination of a retirement pension and medical benefits. Those filing as nonresident aliens do not have to pay Medicare Deductions.

    Original Date of Entry: This is the first date you arrived in the U.S.—just before beginning your education or appointment. It is not the date that you last entered the U.S. after returning from a vacation or other trip.

    Nonresident Alien: U.S. tax residency status of non-US citizens temporarily in the U.S. F‑1 Students and J‑1 Exchange Visitors are usually nonresident aliens when they first arrive in the U.S. H-1B Specialty Workers may be nonresident aliens, but usually only for their first year and if they entered the U.S. toward the end of the calendar year. Unlike US citizens and resident aliens, who are required to pay taxes on their worldwide income, nonresident aliens are required to pay taxes only on income from US sources. In addition, if a tax treaty exists between the nonresident alien’s home country and the USA, all or a portion of US-source income may be exempt from taxes. (See Publication 901: U.S. Tax Treaties.)

    Permanent Resident Alien: This is a lawful permanent resident, also known as a “green-card holder.” This is an individual who has been accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the U.S. These persons are taxed in the same manner as US citizens—on worldwide income.

    Resident Alien: An alien who is either a lawful permanent resident, an H-1B or O-1 holder, or an F-1 or J-1 holder who has spent enough time in the U.S. to pass the substantial presence test (see below). Resident aliens are taxed in the same manner as U.S. citizens—on income worldwide.

    Social Security Deductions: Part of what is known as the FICA tax, Social Security Deductions are imposed on wages and salaries and credited to a combination of a retirement pension and medical benefits.

    Substantial Presence Test: Determines “IRS residency status” (not the same as I‑94 status) for tax purposes. It calculates the number of days that an individual has been in the U.S. and determines whether that person is a “resident alien” or a “nonresident alien.” Internationals in F-1 or J-1 status are exempt from having to take the Substantial Presence Test—

    • For students, for the first five calendar years, and
    • For scholars, for the first two calendar years

    This exemption deems them to be nonresident aliens for the tax year in question. To claim this exemption, students and scholars must file Form 8843.

    Tax Return: An official statement filed with the IRS to report taxable income during a calendar year.  All internationals in the U.S. who have taxable income must file tax returns—a version of the 1040.  Form 8843 alone is NOT a tax return.

    Tax Year: For almost all internationals, this is the period of time from January 1 through December 31.

    U.S.-Source Income: Income from sources within the U.S. For nonresident aliens, this type of income is taxable (as opposed to “foreign-source income,” which is not). See Publication 519, Table 2-1 on page 12 to determine whether income is foreign- or U.S.-source.

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”): The U.S. government entity that is charged with administering and enforcing U.S. laws concerning internationals, including laws and regulations governing H1B and O1 statuses.

    U.S. Tax Residency Status: Non-U.S. citizens’ tax liability depends on this. All non-U.S. citizens are classified as either “resident aliens” or “nonresident aliens.” U.S. Tax Residency Status is independent of I‑94 status.

    Withholding: Employers withhold a percentage of each paycheck and pay an estimated tax liability to the IRS, state, and local authorities. In this way, employees are not stuck with a very large tax bill to pay by April 15. In most cases, estimated tax liability is too high, and employees must file a tax return to get a refund of the money owed to them.

IRS - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • What is an ITIN

    An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit. Effective April 12, 2011, the range was extended to include 900-70-0000 through 999-88-9999, 900-90-0000 through 999-92-9999 and 900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.

    Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

    IRS - ITIN

Education Credentials Evaluation

Replacement of your Lost Documents
  • Visa Stamp

    First you will need to contact the U.S. Consulate that approved your visa stamp. Then you will need to follow the same procedure as that for an initial visa application.

  • I-94 Arrival Departure Card

    Digital I-94 can be retrieved from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can issue you a replacement I-94 card if it is lost or stolen.  File Form I-102.

  • Form I-797 Notice of Action

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can issue you a replacement Form I-797 Notice of Action (H-1B, O-1) if it is lost or stolen.  File Form I-824.

  • Passport

    Contact your country's nearest consulate office to arrange for a replacement passport.

  • Permanent Resident Card

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can issue you a replacement Permanent Resident card if it is lost or stolen; see replacing your permanent residence card.

Notary Public
  • Translations

    All documents submitted in support of an application or petition must include complete translation into English. In addition, there must be a certification from the translator indicating that the translation is complete and accurate and attesting to his or her competence as a translator. See 8 CFR 103.2(b) (3).

  • Notarized Official Documents Required by USCIS


    A document in which a person states facts, swearing that the facts are true and
    accurate. The person (the affiant) must include their full printed name and address, date and place of birth, relationship to the parties, if any, and complete details concerning how the affiant acquired knowledge of the events.  The affiant should sign the affidavit under oath and the signature should be witnessed by an official, such as a notary public.

Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI)

  • MAVNI - General Information for Non-Immigrants

    Although it isn’t a military secret per se, MAVNI is a small and very exclusive program that benefits immigrants and the U.S. military. Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) is a special recruiting program that may be available to some immigrants interested in joining the U.S. military. Generally, immigrants must be permanent residents to join the military (see Military Enlistment Requirements); once enlisted these green card soldiers can take advantage of expedited citizenship. However, MAVNI allows certain non-citizens in the United States to join the military and thereby gain eligibility for U.S. citizenship without first having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a green card. The MAVNI program began in 2009 and remains a pilot program. In late 2016 the program suspended the application process until certain revisions could be implemented.



American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU
  • Immigrant's Rights

    Do you know your rights? These easy-to-use resources were created by the ACLU so you can have your rights at your fingertips. Immigrant's Rights