Visa Types - Overview for Current Employees

H1B

  • Arriving in the U.S.

    I-9/E-Verify

    Form I-9 is used to document verification of the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. As required by federal law, the university must complete Form I-9 for each individual hired for employment in the United States. Form I-9 is required for both citizens and noncitizens. The university use the federal government’s E-Verify system to confirm the identity and work eligibility of faculty and staff. You will complete this form upon your arrival in the U.S. please visit our Human Resources office.

    Register with HR-Immigration Services

    All international scholars in employment based immigration status are required to register with our office upon arrival to UTRGV. Including transfer scholars from other U.S. institutions must visit UTRGV’s HR-Immigration Services (IS) upon arrival in the U.S.

    Please make sure to provide us with your contact information (address, phone number, and email address) in the Rio Grande Valley.

    Please bring the following documents:

    • Passport
    • Form I-94
    • Dependent(s) documents (if applicable)

    Orientation

    Orientation is highly encouraged for all new UTRGV’s international scholars.

    There are special regulations that pertain to particular visa categories and that pertain to your specific case. Orientation is an opportunity to learn about these requirements so that violations to the terms of your immigration status do not occur.

    Applying for Social Security

    As a UTRGV employee in an immigration status you must apply in person at the local Social Security Office.

    The following documents are required to apply for a Social Security card:

    • Passport
    • Form I-94 record printed from the CBP website
    • Original Notice of Approval (Form I-797)

    Applying for a Driver’s License

    Although the law is ambiguous when dealing with international visitors, we recommend that you obtain a Texas driver’s license if you will be staying in Texas for over 2 months. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires both a written test and a road test. No appointment is necessary for the written test, but an appointment and a car are required for the road test.

    Scholars in an immigration status must have a social security number, passport, Form I-94 and original notice of approval Form I-797 in order to apply for a license. Dependents must either show proof of ineligibility by obtaining a denial letter from the Social Security Administration or apply for a number, if eligible prior to applying for a U.S driver's license.

    Keep in mind that automobile insurance is required by law in the United States. Most insurance companies require a valid Texas driver’s license.

  • Maintaining Status

    General responsibilities for maintaining H-1B status

    • Employment: you are authorized to stay in the U.S. to work 100%, full-time in the UTRGV position for which you were approved.  Work only in the authorized place of employment and for the period approved on your Form I-797.  If your job ends sooner than the Form I-797 end date, your status technically ends on the same day.
    • Job changes: if there are any significant proposed changes in your job duties, responsibilities, salary or work site, notify IS immediately.  An amended H-1B petition may be necessary.
    • Occasional lectures and consultation: an H-1B may not consult outside of UTRGV unless employed by an additional, concurrent employer.  In regards to occasional lectures, this is possible as long as you do not receive compensation. Please refer additional questions to IS Immigration Services Manager.
    • Recapture: keep records of any significant amount of time that you are outside of the United States while on H-1B status.  It may be possible to request an extension of your H-1B status by the total amount of days you were outside of the U.S.
    • Study: an H-1B may enroll in classes as long as they are incidental to full-time employment.
    • Taxes: individuals in H status are required to file both state and federal taxes annually.
    • Concurrent employment: it is possible to have H-1B status with more than one employer at the same time.  Each employer would need to file an H-1B petition with USCIS in accordance with proper procedures.
    • Change of employer/portability: it is possible to “port” or “transfer” your H-1B status to another employer/institution.  Please note that employment must be continuous from UTRGV to another employer and you must otherwise maintain your immigration status.  During the transition to the new employer, you will be able to remain in the U.S. and continue working for 240 days, if the new employer has filed the new H-1B request in a timely fashion.  Please consult with your new employer for exact details on this process.
  • Extending Status

    You should get courtesy reminders from Immigration Services starting 8 months prior to your H-1B expiration.  However, you are responsible for working with your department to make sure a request is initiated with IS at or before the 8 month mark.

    While we can’t typically file before the 6 month mark for an extension, a full eight months lead time can be necessary to plan around any upcoming travel, upcoming changes by the government, and respond to government requests that might arise during processing.

    The hiring department will pay all government filing fees associated with obtaining your H-1B status.  However, fees and costs associated with obtaining a visa stamp (where necessary) at a U.S. Consulate abroad are your responsibility.  Similarly, the fees and costs associated with obtaining dependent status for any accompanying family members will also be your responsibility.

    240 Day Rule: This is the H1B visa 240 day rule where an individual can continue to work for the current employer for up to 240 days after the current H-1B visa expiration if he/she is waiting for the USCIS decision. This rule applies only after a bona fide H-1B renewal petition has been filed.

  • Amendment

    Depending on the situation, the university may need to file a new petition on your behalf before you can take up the new job and start working in that new position.

    • If your department is contemplating changes to your employment (significant proposed changes in your job duties, responsibilities, salary or work site), please have them contact IS an amended H-1B petition may be necessary.
    • If you are changing departments at IS, please have the new department contact IS to file a petition before starting you in the new position.
  • Ending Your Status (Duration of Stay)

    For H-1B status, the program end date is on the I-94 card.

    In all cases, however, the actual status end date is the date that you stop your approved activity, or the end date on your forms, whichever comes first.

    For example, if an H-1B finishes his/her program three months early, then the lawful H-1B status also ends three months early.

    Always inform the Immigration Services Office when ending your appointment at UTRGV.  As our office is required to notify the appropriate government agencies of your departure.  Please contact us if you have questions about your status ending.

    Grace periods

    New regulations effective Jan 17th, 2017 grant a 60-day grace period (or up to the end of the authorized petition validity period--whichever is shorter) for those employees who experience a "cessation of the employment" on which the H classification (or TN, E, L, O) was based.  Until these regulations go into effect, for these temporary worker dependent statuses, there is no grace period. You must leave immediately upon completing authorized employment.  If it is not feasible to do this, you may file
  • After Expiration of H-1B

    The H-1B has a limited duration of 6 years, total cumulative time during a consecutive stay in the U.S. For those who might want or need to stay longer than this it is important to plan far in advance. Please consult IS regarding the options below.

    • Reclaiming H-1B time
    • Restarting H-1B time period
    • Changing to other Immigration Statuses
    • Legal Permanent Residency
  • H4/Dependents Resources

    Inviting Family Members

    •Overview: spouses and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for H-4 status.

    •Application process: usually, H-4 applications are submitted to IS at the same time as an initial or extension H-1B Request.  However, dependents may apply for H-4 status at any time on their own, after the principal has acquired H-1B status.  The eligible dependent would file a change of status application, Form I-539 with USCIS prior to the end date of the current immigration status.

    •Visa: a dependent may apply for an H-4 visa stamp at the U.S. Consulate either with his or her own Form I-797 for H-4 status, or the Form I-797 of the H-1B principal. 

    H-4 Employment

    •As of 5/26/2015, only certain H-4 spouses of H-1B principals may file I-765 applications for Employment Authorization Documents. Eligible spouses are those whose principal H-1B is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or whose principal H-1B spouse has been granted H-1B status past the initial 6-yr period under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act.

    H-4 Study

    •H-4 dependents may study in the U.S., full- or part-time.  Dependents should weigh the benefits of changing their status to F-1 versus remaining in H-4 status.

  • Change of Employer/Concurrent Employment

    • Change of employer/portability: it is possible to “port” or “transfer” your H-1B status to another employer/institution.  Please note that employment must be continuous from UTRGV to another employer and you must otherwise maintain your immigration status.  During the transition to the new employer, you will be able to remain in the U.S. and continue working for 240 days, if the new employer has filed the new H-1B request in a timely fashion.  Please consult with your new employer for exact details on this process.
    • Concurrent employment: it is possible to have H-1B status with more than one employer at the same time.  Each employer would need to file an H-1B petition with USCIS in accordance with proper procedures.
  • Request of Further Evidence - RFE

    A RFE, otherwise known as a Request for Evidence, is an inquiry by the USCIS in order to request additional proof necessary to make a decisions pertaining to our H1B case.

    This information can be regarding the petitioner, beneficiary or both, since the USCIS must see sufficient proof of an employer-employee relationship. From the time we receive the RFE, we have 90 days to submit the appropriate documents.

    The most common H1B RFE reasons include:

    • The USCIS uses a tool known as the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE). What VIBE does is use the information that’s commercially available to confirm information regarding the petitioning employer. Some discrepancies may arise if there is a recent change of address, change of structure or other mismatched information between the VIBE system and H1B petition. Therefore, we may receive a RFE requesting information like the employer’s Federal Tax ID Number, wage reports, financial statements, etc.
    • Determination of a specialty occupation- H1B visas are granted to individuals who are qualified workers in a “specialty occupation”. In order to qualify as such, you will be required to adhere to one of the following requirements: ◦The minimum requirement is typically a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) for the position. The position may also be so complex that it requires a degree. While these regulations are pretty much set in stone, the approval of a “specialty occupation” typically comes down to the judgment of the adjudicating officer. They look past the surface and may request paperwork like the beneficiary’s work experience, detailed job description, industry-wide practices, proposed salary, etc.
    • Degree in a separate field of study- Cases exist where an individual may have a bachelor’s degree but it may not be in the same field as the proposed position. If that’s the case, the RFE will request an explanation detailing how the degree relates to the position. Likewise, if the worker does not have a bachelor’s degree from the U.S they may need to submit proof of the foreign degree equivalent. Proof of experience may also be required in the form of past employment letters or evaluations from official sources like a college or university.
    • Requests for an extension or change of status– If an H1B petition is filed for an extension or change of status, sufficient documentation must be provided to demonstrate the worker has maintained their current status by submitting employment letter, recent pay statements and W2.
  • Replacement of your Lost Document

    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.  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.

    Visa Stamp

    • To renew a visa stamp, follow the same procedure as that for an initial visa application.

    Passport

    • Contact your country's nearest consulate office to arrange for a replacement passport.
  • Alien's Change of Address Form AR-11

    Foreign nationals in nonimmigrant (i.e. H-1B) or immigrant (green card) status are required to notify the USCIS within 10 days of a change in home address, by submitting Form AR-11. UTRGV does not file this form of behalf of its international employees. The following USCIS site contains instructions for filing Form AR-11 electronically or by mail: AR-11 Change of Address

    Please also notify the Immigration Services Manager at the Human Resources Office of new addresses by sending a photocopy of the form submitted to the USCIS.

  • Change of Status from J1 to H-1B (How to Obtain 212e Waiver)

    Overview

    Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States.

    For more information on how to obtain a waiver please refer to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs - Waiver of the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement  

  • Recapturing Time Spent Outside the United States

    Any time spent outside the United States during the six years in H-1B status may be recaptured with the last extension of status filed on your behalf. Throughout your H-1B status, you should keep copies of airline tickets, receipts, itineraries and/or any entry/exit stamps in your passport as proof of your travel outside the United States.

  • H-1B Booklet - Medical School

    The purpose of this booklet is to provide pre-arrival and ongoing information to international physicians, research scientists and their family members. If you require clarification or further information beyond what is included in this booklet, please contact the Immigration Services Office at Human Resources.

    Requirements:

     

    H-1B Temporary Worker (Clinical Training Program)

    • Passing score on USMLE Step 1, Step 2CK, Step 2CS and Step 3

    Please note: Step 3 is not required for graduates of U.S. medical schools

    Graduates of Canadian medical schools must pass all 3 steps of USMLE. Canadian examinations are not recognized for H-1B purposes.

    Applicants participating in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) must have their scores by the time the Match results are published (usually mid-March). If results not received or failed exam, then you must use the J-1. UTRGV will not wait for a re-test or for delayed score reports.

    • Valid ECFMG Certificate
    • Training certificate or permanent license issued by the State Medical Board of Texas.
    • Credential equivalency evaluation of degrees earned outside the U.S.
    • Medical School Diploma (with English translation if applicable).

    Nonimmigrant/Immigrant Status NOT Supported by UTRGV

     

    Immigrant Visa/Permanent Resident Status

    The UTRGV does not sponsor immigrant (permanent resident) petitions for research or clinical trainees (residents, clinical fellows, clinical research fellows, research fellows or post-doctoral fellows). In addition,

    O-1 Temporary Worker of Extraordinary Ability

    UTRGV will not prepare O-1 petitions for trainees unless the trainee has been or will be promoted to staff and O-1 is the only option, and

    H-1B for Persons of National/International Renown

    UTRGV will not sponsor applications for trainees under this classification. If an applicant does not meet the USMLE requirements for an H-1B for clinical activity, then the J-1 visa is more suitable.

    Information on Obtaining a Visa Stamp

     

    DO NOT ARRANGE TRAVEL UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR U.S. VISA STAMP

     

    General Information

    Information on scheduling an appointment for a visa interview and the online application are available through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html. The website contains information on all visa types and Frequently Asked Questions for international visitors to the U.S. This is the best source of information available. It is suggested that you use this information as your primary source when planning your trip to the U.S.

    Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a visa in their passport prior to entering the United States. However, they must undergo inspection at the point of entry be sure to bring all documents when crossing the border by car or boarding a plane.

    H-1B Temporary Worker

    These are the items you will need to take to your visa interview:

    • Copy of the Form I-129 H-1B petition filed on your behalf: contains all pertinent information about your position including the Form ETA950 Labor Condition Application will be provided by the immigration services manager.
    • Original or copy of the H-1B approval notice, Form I797A or B (please note that the consulate may accept a copy for visa processing, but you will need the original when entering the U.S.)
    • Your passport
    • Pay the application fee and any reciprocity fees

    You should not need any additional documents. Please note that you are permitted to enter the U.S. no more than 10 days prior to the start date on your H-1B approval notice.

    Inspection at the Port of Entry

     

    When you arrive at your first stop in the United States, you will be directed to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for Admission. You will need to show the following documents:

    • Passport
    • H-1B approval notice

    The officer will review your documents, may ask a few questions and then enter your information into the database. Be sure to take all of your documents with you when leaving the Customs desk - replacing them can be difficult and costly.

    Your admission to the U.S. is stored electronically so you will not receive any documents from the Custom officer. However, you must go to the website and printout your Form I-94 (Admission/Departure Record) and take it with you to orientation at UTRGV. The web address is: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/.

     

    Please note that if you are arriving by car from Canada, you will still receive a paper document. Be sure to show the officer the same documents listed above and bring the paper I-94 with you to orientation.

     

    Information for Dependents

     

    Same Sex Marriage and Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act

    In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Defense of Marriage Act. This means that if you and your spouse are the same sex and you were legally married in a country or a state in the U.S. that has legalized same sex marriage, your spouse is entitled to depended status. If you and your spouse are in the U.S., your spouse is eligible to apply for a change of status to the derivative dependent status. If your spouse is currently outside the U.S. he/she is eligible to apply for a dependent visa at a U.S. Consulate or if a Canadian citizen, at the airport or border prior to entry.

    H-4 classifications are designated for the use of dependents of H-1B. A dependent is defined as a legal spouse (must show a marriage certificate when applying for a visa) and children under the age of 21 years. Your parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, nannies and housekeepers ARE NOT eligible for these classifications. For information on bringing a household employee of long standing with you to the U.S., please contact the U.S. Consulate for information. Family members (not spouse/children) can come to visit you using the B2 visitor’s visa.

    Employment

    H-4 dependents of temporary workers (H-1B) are not permitted to accept employment of any kind. This includes unpaid employment and self-funded research.

    Academic Studies

    H-4 dependent children and spouses are all permitted to attend school in the United States. All dependent spouses may enroll in college and university classes. Tuition rates may vary according to determination of resident status in the State of Texas. It is suggested that your spouse consult with the Office of International Student Services at the college or university which they plan to attend.

    However, even though if an H-4 dependent is a student, they are NOT permitted to accept employment. This includes post-graduate employment. If necessary, the H-4 dependent must apply for a change of status from H-4 to H-1B for post-graduate employment.

    Volunteer Work

    The only volunteer activities permitted are those which are done for a charitable organization which depends on volunteers for its daily operations. UTRGV does not depend on volunteers for its daily operations. These are examples of volunteering in which dependents may participate:

    • Volunteering in a hospital (giving patients directions, visiting with patients; community volunteering (literacy programs, food banks etc.) or in a museum

    Dependents may NOT volunteer to do research in laboratories, libraries or on computers, assist with patient care, perform general administrative or secretarial duties. These are all examples of positions for which people are normally hired and paid as an employee. The USCIS strictly forbids this type of activity on the part of dependents unless the person is eligible and authorized for employment. The U.S. Department of Labor considers this using unpaid foreign labor to displace U.S. workers and a violation of fair labor standards.

     

    Nonimmigrant Status & Visa: What is the difference?

     

    A Visa is the document placed in your passport by the U.S. Consular official. This document permits you to enter the United States. It may be valid for 6 months or a year or longer. You may be able to use it to enter the U.S. many times or just one time. If your visa expires while you are in the United States, it does not mean that you are out of status or in the U.S. illegally.

    Nonimmigrant status is granted when you arrive in the United States. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at the point of entry (airport or border) will record your nonimmigrant status, H-1B, or dependents H-4 and the expiration date in the CBP database.

    Therefore, it is a Visa, which gets you to the point of entry in the U.S. and the Nonimmigrant Status, which allows you to remain in the U.S.

    Maintaining your Nonimmigrant Status

     

    Passport

    It is important that you remember the expiration date of your passport and make sure that it is valid at all times. It is essential to your stay in the U.S. and also to any extension of stay that will be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on your behalf. For example, your passport must be valid when an extension of status is filed for those in H-1B status. Please note that expiration of your passport does not mean that any U.S. visas you hold are no longer valid. The visa is a separate document issued by the U.S. government and remains valid until the expiration date on the visa. You may present an expired passport and a valid visa provided you also present a new passport.

    H-1B Temporary Workers

    Your stay in the United States may be valid for an initial period of 1 to 3 years with the possibility of extension for another 1 to 3 years. Approximately, 2 months prior to the expiration date on your Form I-94, the UTRGV will need to submit a request for extension to the USCIS on your Behalf. By law, employers may not file H-1B petitions more than 6 months prior to the start date on the petition.

    You will be contacted when it is time to file your extension. It is your responsibility to provide the requested documents in a timely manner to insure your ability to continue in your program. Extensions are contingent upon continued reappointment to your position at the UTRGV. Please note that H-1B regulations permit continued employment beyond the expiration date of your H-1B status only if the extension is filed prior to the expiration.

     

     

    Moonlight

    H-1B Temporary Workers: H-1B nonimmigrants may moonlight with the same or a different employer provided they meet the requirements for independent practice (licensure etc.). If the H-1B holder will be working for a different employer, that employer MUST file a concurrent H-1B petition to authorize employment at their worksite. All moonlighting must be approved by your program director.

    Changing Institutions/Employers

    H-1B Temporary Workers

    Under the H-1B portability rule of Public Law 106-313, H-1B nonimmigrants who change employers are permitted to begin working with the new employer before final approval of the new H-1B petition is received. The following conditions must be met:

    • The new employer must file the H-1B petition prior to the last day of employment with the current employer – and
    • The new employer has a receipt notice from the Immigration service.

    For example, your last day of employment at UTRGV is May 15. You are contracted to begin working at the new institution on May 16. You do not have to wait for the new H-1B approval provided the new employer files before May 15 and they have a receipt or proof of delivery to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS).

    Similarly, if you are promoted from a trainee to a staff position within UTRGV (research or clinical) an amended H-1B indicating the new position, duties and salary must be filed with USCIS. This also applies if you are changing your employment status from fulltime to part-time and vice versa.

    Special Topics

    Duration of Stay

    The H-1B temporary worker program may be used for a maximum of 6 years. When planning your career goals you need to keep this in mind. For example, if you are a resident interested in surgical disciplines you need to consider the duration of your program when deciding on the type of visa you wish to pursue. If your program is longer than 6 years you need to consider what your options will be for the remaining years in the program.

    Citizens of certain countries who have filed any of the applications associated with the process of obtaining permanent residence (labor certification ETA989, I-140, I-485) and the application has been pending for more than one year at the end of the 6th year of H-1B time, may be eligible for one year extensions of their H-1B status. If they have an approved immigrant petition but are unable to file the I-485 Adjustment of Status, they may be eligible for a three year extension of their H-1B status.

    Recapturing Time Spent Outside the U.S.

    Any time spent outside the United States during the six years in H-1B status may be recaptured with the last extension of status filed on your behalf. Throughout your H-1B status, you should keep copies of airline tickets, receipts, itineraries and/or any entry/exit stamps in your passport as proof of your travel outside the U.S.

    Change of Address

    Foreign nationals in nonimmigrant (i.e. H-1B) or immigrant (green card) status are required to notify the USCIS within 10 days of a change in home address, by submitting Form AR-11. UTRGV does not file this form of behalf of its international employees. The following USCIS site contains instructions for filing Form AR-11 electronically or by mail: AR-11 Change of Address.

    Please also notify the Immigration Services Manager at the Human Resources Office of new addresses by sending a photocopy of the form submitted to the USCIS.

     

    Two-year bar/One-year bar/Two-year Home residency requirement: Compared

    In January 2007, the U.S. Department of State increased the duration of status for J-1 exchange visitors in the research scholar category from 3 years to 5 years. It also imposed a new 2-year bar on participation in this category once a program is completed.

    The new rule allows for 5 years of participation as a J-1 research scholar to be used for one or more exchange visitor programs and one or more sponsoring institutions. However, the 5-year period is a continuous period. If the exchange visitor leaves the U.S. and his/her SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record becomes inactive, they become subject to the 2-year bar. The 5-year eligibility window will be closed and the remaining time lost if the research scholar completes a program of less than five years and the SEVIS record becomes inactive.

    So, what isn’t prohibited? The two-year bar does not prohibit the former J-1 research scholar from returning to the U.S. in any other J-1 category or other nonimmigrant status (F-1 student or H-1B temporary worker).

    If the research scholar is still in the U.S. and they are coming to the end of their 5-year period, they may be eligible to change to a different status. Research scholars are encouraged to look ahead at their options – 1 or 2 years lead-time is appropriate for obtaining waivers of the 2-year home residence requirement or applying for graduate programs at area universities.

    Here are definitions of the various bars and requirements imposed under J-1 regulations:

    2-year home residence requirement – 212(e): prohibits a change of status to H or L nonimmigrant status or permanent resident until the J-1 exchange visitor has resided in his/her country of origin or last legal permanent residence for a period of two years.

    1-year bar: The 1-year bar prohibits J-1 exchange visitors (different category) from returning to the U.S. in the J-1 research scholar category when the exchange visitor was in the U.S. for more than 6 months in the previous calendar year. So, if the J-1 was in the U.S. from January to August they are prohibited from entering the U.S. in the research scholar category for a period of one year. However, they are not prohibited from entering the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status. The same rule applies if the research scholar is in the U.S. from January to August, changes to F-1 student from September to May and ten wants to change back to J-1 research scholar.

    There are some exceptions based on the date which the exchange visitor entered the U.S. in the previous J-1 status as well as the category of the J-1 used at the time. This chart provided by the U.S. Department of State may help you determine whether or not you are subject to the 1-year bar or the 2-year bar.

    2-year bar: Prohibits repeat participation as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar if the exchange visitor completes 5 years of participation with one or more sponsors –or- if before the 5-year period are over they complete a program and their SEVIS record becomes inactive. Remember ~ the 5-year period is granted on a “use or lose” basis. You are given 5 years from the start date on your Form DS-2019. Once your SEVIS record is inactive, you cannot return to the U.S. or change back to J-1 status to recapture any time you may have left.

    Travel outside the United States

    General Information

    Contact the embassy or consulate of the country to which you are traveling to determine if you need a visa to enter that country. Each country has different laws governing entry of foreign citizens. It may be necessary for you to obtain a visa from the consulate or embassy prior to departing the United States. Foreign consular offices are located in cities throughout the United States. Foreign embassies are located in Washington, D.C.

    Please note that there are special regulations for travel to Canada, Mexico and any countries which are adjacent or contiguous to the United States.

    If you plan on applying for a new visa in a country which is not your country of last legal permanent residence or country of citizenship, please visit this website for complete information:http://travel.state.gvo/content/visas/english/general/nonimmigrants-present-visiting-canada-mexico.html

     

    Things to do at least one month before leaving the U.S. (temporarily)

    • Check your passport: is it valid? Is the visa valid?
    • Check your documents:
      • H-1B: approval notice

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO LEAVE THE U.S. WITHOUT YOUR DOCUMENTS: if you do not have your H-1B approval notice when you try to re-enter the U.S., the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer may deny you entry into the U.S. If your visa has expired, you will need to renew it at the U.S. Consulate in the country to which you are traveling. You will need the same documents required when you first obtained your visa.

    Things to do after returning from a trip outside the U.S.:

     

    Remember to print out your new Form I-94

    Your admission to the U.S. is stored electronically so you will not receive any documents from the Customs officer. However, you must go to the website and printout your Form I-94 (Admission/Departure Record) and take it with you to orientation at UTRGV. The web address is: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/.

    Please note that if you are arriving by car from Canada, you will still receive a paper document. Be sure to show the officer the same documents listed above and bring the paper I-94.

    Check the Expiration Date on your New I-94

                H-1B: your I-94 expiry date should match the end date on your H-1B approval notice.

    Please notify IS immediately if the information on the new I-94 printout is different than as stated above. This could affect your ability to work.

    Information For Dependents Traveling Without The H-1B visa Holder

    H-4 Dependents

    If traveling without the H-1B holder, dependents should bring a copy of the H-1B holder’s visa, Form I-94 and copies of your paychecks for the last 2 months. If they are traveling alone and need to renew their visas, they must also bring a copy of the original Form I797 and a copy of the petition.

    Living in America

    Language and Culture

    Whether you speak English or not, whether you are fluent or a beginner, the American culture is different and the ways and manners of speech may be different than the English you learned at home. Just as there are dialects of your language based on geographic locations so too are there different ways of saying things in different parts of the U.S. There are several programs in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) area which can help you and your family members become more fluent in English and learn more about life in the U.S. There are also several good books available which may be helpful in understanding American culture. http://www.utrgv.edu/language-institute/en-us/courses/intensive-english/

    DON’T be shy!

    If there is something you don’t understand (American slang or customs) or need help finding or doing something necessary to your living in RGV - don’t hesitate to ask a your adviser. We will be happy to explain or provide information on what you need.

    Social Security Number

    A social security number is the U.S. equivalent to an identify number or social insurance number in other countries. You need it to do many things: open a bank account, obtain a credit card or buy a car. Be sure to keep your social security card and/or number in a safe place. Do not carry it in your wallet or have it listed on your driver’s license. If this number is stolen or lost, the finder can use it to do everything you need it for and do it I your name – like opening bank accounts, obtaining credit cards etc.-this can financially ruin you. This is called identify theft. The SSA has a webpage dedicated to non-U.S. citizens: http://www.ssa.gov/people/immigrants/. This pamphlet provides good information about identity theft: http://ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10064.pdf.

     

    You need to apply for your social security number in person at one of the local offices. You will need to bring your passport and all visa related documents (Form I-797 or DS-2019). The SSA offices are located at:

     

    When you can apply

    H-1B holders can apply any time after arrival in the U.S.

    Dependents and Social Security Numbers

    Dependents are generally not eligible for social security numbers. Only those eligible to work (J-2 with employment authorization) may apply for a number. However, for tax purposes you may be required to obtain Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) for each member of your family living with you in the U.S. You can find the application online at:

    http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-W-7,-Appliaction-for-IRS-Individual-Taxpayer-Identification-Number

    Obtaining a Driver’s License

    Your driver’s license will be issued by the DMV via an office in the County where you live in Texas.

    You will need to bring your passport, Form I-94 and Form I-797. You will also need a letter from IS which will be provided at your request. Your spouse and eligible children will also need to provide these documents including a letter from the immigration advisor. Please include their name(s) in your request.

    Know your rights

     

    Contrary to popular belief, nonimmigrants living and working/studying in the United States are entitled to certain rights under U.S. law.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a pamphlet for nonimmigrants which outlines their rights when stopped by police officers or contacted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or any other law enforcement officer. https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights

    The U.S. Congress has passed several laws regarding the treatment of immigrant workers in the U.S. which guarantees certain rights. Here is a link to the information you should know: http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/LegalRightsandProtections/Wilberforce%20Final%20version%2020140429.pdf

     

    Important Information & Websites

     

    U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS)

    Formerly U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service

    1-800-375-5283 / www.uscis.gov

    U.S. Department of State

    J-1 Waiver information (research) / https://j1visawaiverrecommendation.state.gov/

    Foreign Consulates in the United States / http://www.embassy.org/embassies/

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    U.S. government agency responsible for Federal taxation

    1-800-829-1040 / www.irs.gov

    Social Security Administration (SSA)

    1-800-772-1213 / www.ssa.gov

     

    UTRGV Handbook of Operating Procedures

    Hiring of Foreign Nationals (H-1B, TN, O1, E3, etc.) - ADM 04-205

    (956) 665 3021

    DISCLAIMER: The information in this document which pertains to laws and regulations governing immigrants and nonimmigrants to the U.S. is provided to you solely for informational purposes and is not


TN

  • Requesting TN Status

    Before applying for your visa stamp, make sure you have your TN letter that references the appropriate USMCA occupational title (Canadian TNs will not need visa stamps, but will need this document to apply for admission)

  • General Responsibilities for Maintaining TN Status

    Employment: You are authorized to stay in the U.S. to work in the UTRGV position described in your employment letter, through the duration indicated on your electronic or paper Form I-94 (or I-797 approval notice if status changed/extended inside the U.S.)

    Job changes: Significant changes in your job duties may require filing an amended petition with USCIS or traveling and reentering prior to those changes taking place; notify IS immediately of any anticipated changes.

    Occasional lectures and consultation: A TN may not consult outside of UTRGV unless employed by an additional, concurrent employer. In regards to occasional lectures, this is possible as long as you do not receive compensation. Please refer additional questions to IS.

    Study: a TN may enroll in classes as long as they are incidental to their employment.

    Taxes: Individuals in TN status are required to file both state and federal taxes.

  • Extending TN Status

    TN extension requests should be made to IS a full 6 months in advance.  The individual and the department are jointly responsible for making sure the request comes to us timely.

  • Change of Employer/Concurrent Employment

    Change of employer: to change employers, the new employer must either file an I-129 petition with USCIS, have an approved TN with USCIS prior starting employment, or the TN must travel and re-enter with the new employer's employment letter.

    Concurrent employment: it is possible to have TN status with more than one employer; the new employer may file an I-129 petition with USCIS and have it approved prior to the TN starting employment, or the TN must travel and re-enter with the new employer's employment letter. 

  • TD/Dependents

    Overview: spouses and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for TD status.

    Admission/visa: If not accompanying the principal TN, Canadian citizen dependents may apply for TD status upon admission to the U.S. with a copy of the principal's electronic or paper Form I-94, employment letter, and marriage/birth certificate. Mexican and Canadian non-citizen dependents of TN principals will require TD visas and may apply for these with copies of the principal's I-94 card, employment letter, and marriage/birth certificate, prior to applying for admission upon entry.  If accompanying the principal, proof of relationship and visas, if necessary, will be required upon entry.

    Application process: dependents may apply for change to or extension of TD status through Form I-539, based on derivative status of the principal TN.  See USCIS instructions and form for further information.

    Work: TD dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S.

    Study: TD dependents may study in the U.S., full- or part-time.  Dependents should weigh the benefits of changing their status to F-1 versus remaining in TD status.

  • Alien's Change of Address Form AR-11

    Foreign nationals in nonimmigrant (i.e. H-1B) or immigrant (green card) status are required to notify the USCIS within 10 days of a change in home address, by submitting Form AR-11. UTRGV does not file this form of behalf of its international employees. The following USCIS site contains instructions for filing Form AR-11 electronically or by mail: AR-11 Change of Address

    Please also notify the Immigration Services Manager at the Human Resources Office of new addresses by sending a photocopy of the form submitted to the USCIS.



O1

  • O1 Overview

    Confirming O-1 Eligibility    

    Before the O-1 data collection and preparation process begins, IS must determine that the employee is eligible for O-1 classification.  In order to do so, the employee must provide these documents:

    • A copy of the most recent curriculum vitae (CV); and
    • A research/professional statement that discusses all research or professional activities and the significance of the work and findings (if any).  The research/professional statement is usually 3 - 5 pages in length. Please note that the statement will need to be understood by USCIS officers who are likely not academically trained in the employee's field. 

    In order to successfully petition for an O-1 visa, the following must be provided to USCIS:

    Evidence that the beneficiary has received a major, internationally-recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize, or evidence of at least three, and preferably four of the following:

    • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
    • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
    • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought;
    • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
    • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought;
    • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence;
    • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought; and
    • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;

    Changes in employment and transfers of O-1 status within Vanderbilt

    Employees in O-1 status at UTRGV should be aware that their current O-1 status only provides work authorization for employment with UTRGV in the employment specified in the O-1 petition.  Employees in approved O-1 status at UTRGV may transfer within UTRGV as long as they continue to perform in the same specialized area of expertise. IS should be contacted prior to any change in employment to review the position change and determine whether federal agency notification is required. 

    Extension of O-1 status at UTRGV

    Employees currently in O-1 status at UTRGV, who will continue working at our institution, may file for an extension of O-1 status up to six months before the current O-1 expires. In order to ensure uninterrupted employment, it is essential that the O-1 extension filing reaches USCIS before the current O-1 expires so please complete the initiation request in a timely manner.

    Filing the O-1 extension before the current O-1 expires allows for an automatic 240 day extension of O-1 status while in the United States. Employees who travel abroad during the 240 day extension period may have to wait for O-1 approval and obtain a new O-1 visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the United States to resume employment. In addition, employees who travel abroad after the O-1 extension is approved must obtain an O-1 visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the United States to resume employment.

    Termination of employment at UTRGV while in O-1 Status

    Employees in O-1 status at UTRGV are permitted to work only at UTRGV. Should additional employment be desired, the new employer must file a petition for concurrent O-1 visa status.

    Employees should be aware that there is no O-1 status grace period following termination of employment at UTRGV. However, upon entering the United States, US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will provide an I-94 document with an additional ten (10) day grace period to allow for time to depart the United States. Please remember to request the 10 day grace period when being inspected by CBP as it can only be granted by a CBP officer. Employees in O-1 status who are informed of an upcoming termination or lay-off should contact IS immediately.



E3

  • E3 Overview

    E-3 visa category: The E-3 visa allows citizens of Australia to work in the United States in specialty occupations (i.e. position must require at least a bachelor’s degree).  This visa category is regulated by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). 

    Applying for the E-3 visa: The E-3 visa can be obtained inside the United States (through USCIS) or outside the United States (through a U.S. consulate). For persons applying at a U.S. consulate, a visa interview is required to review the documentation and confirm Australian citizenship.  Applicants for an E-3 visa will need to schedule an appointment to attend the consular interview. IS is responsible for the E-3 visa process regardless of whether the petition is for an employee outside or inside the United States. 

    Changes in employment and transfers of E-3 status within UTRGV:  Employees in E-3 status at UTRGV should be aware that their current E-3 status only provides work authorization to work at UTRGV in the job specified on the Labor Condition Application and/or immigration filing. Therefore, employees in approved E-3 status at UTRGV may only transfer within UTRGV to another position in the same specific occupation. If the occupation category changes, employment is possible but will likely require notification to the DOL and USCIS. 

    IS should be contacted prior to any change in employment to review the position change and determine whether federal agency notification is required. Generally USCIS and DOL must be notified, and a new E-3 petition filed, if there are significant employment changes (e.g. change in job duties, substantial salary increase or decrease, change in hours worked). The need to file a petition to provide notification of a significant change in employment will not delay the event (promotion, salary increase, etc.) as long as the E-3 filing is done in a timely fashion. For that reason, it is important to contact IS as soon as the changes are agreed upon and before the change in employment occurs.   

    Extension of E-3 status at UTRGV: Employees currently in E-3 status at UTRGV, who will continue working at our institution, may file for an extension of E-3 status up to six months before the current E-3 expires. To ensure uninterrupted employment, it is essential that the E-3 extension filing reaches USCIS before the current E-3 expires so please complete the E-3 Packet and forward it to IS in a timely manner. Employees needing to extend E-3 status in the United States are encouraged to begin the process well in advance. 

    Filing the E-3 extension before the current E-3 expires allows for an automatic 240 day extension of E-3 status while in the United States. If an employee travels abroad during the 240 day extension period, however, they may have to obtain a new E-3 visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the USA to resume employment. In addition, if an employee travels abroad after the E-3 extension is approved, they must obtain an E-3 visa from a U.S. consulate before returning to the United States to resume employment. 

    Termination of employment at UTRGV while in E-3 Status:  Employees in E-3 status at UTRGV are permitted to work only at UTRGV. Should additional employment be desired, the new employer must file a petition for concurrent E-3 visa status.

    Employees should be aware that there is no E-3 status grace period following termination of employment at UTRGV. However, upon entering the USA, US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will provide an I-94 document with an additional ten (10) day grace period to allow for time to depart the United States. Please remember to request the 10 day grace period when being inspected by CBP as it can only be granted by a CBP officer. Employees in E-3 status who are informed of an upcoming termination or lay-off should contact IS immediately.



EAD/OPT:

  • EAD/OPT Overview

    Special Rules for F-1 Students:

    F-1 students with EAD based on OPT (Optional Practical Training) or STEM-OPT must work within the area of their academic degree.  F-1 students can work for any number of US employers as long as all jobs are within the area of their academic degree for which OPT was granted.  F-1 students working under the STEM-OPT extension, have the additional restriction of only being able to work for US employers who are enrolled in the E-Verify program.  F-1 students with STEM-OPT can work for multiple employers but all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.  UTRGV is an E-Verify employer.

    As mentioned above, renewing the EAD in a timely fashion is extremely important because, in general, an employee must stop working when the EAD expires. This is true even if an EAD renewal application is pending with USCIS. There is only one exception to this rule: F-1 students applying for the STEM--OPT extension are permitted to work for an additional 180 days while the EAD application is being processed. However, the F-1 student only gets this benefit if the EAD application was filed with USCIS before the first OPT-EAD expires. If the STEM-OPT application for EAD was not filed in a timely fashion, the 180 day extension cannot be used.

    Please go to this link from USCIS for more information: Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)



Other Visa or EAD Categories

  • Overview B1/B2, WB/WT and EAD Regulations

    Overview

    The B-1 Business status allows visitors to enter the U.S. as non-immigrants for up to six months for business or pleasure, with the possibility to extend the status for an additional six months.

    Visitors entering in this status cannot engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program. The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 may be used for "independent research."

    Visitors in this status are permitted to change to another non-immigrant classification, provided they had no preconceived intent to do this prior to their entry in B status (or, if so, disclosed this intent to U.S. officials prior to their entry in B status).

    • B-1 status (Visitor for Business): An international visitor entering in B-1 status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business, such as consulting with business associates; participating in scientific, educational, or professional conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertaking independent research.  These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. Persons in B-1 status may be reimbursed for reasonable business costs where UTRGV has a business purpose (e.g., inviting an expert speaker to a conference) and, if their activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from beginning to end of their activity, can be granted an honorarium, provided that they will be granted honoraria from no more than five institutions during their stay in the U.S.  The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1 classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (see http://travel.state.gov/pdf/BusinessVisa.pdf) If activities do not conform to those listed, the U.S. Dept. of State may require a different visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, in which case your department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure.  Note that the U.S. Dept. of State indicates the following about student training and B-1 status in notes to its Foreign Affairs Manual: "aliens, often students, who seek to gain practical experience through on-the-job training or clerkships must qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(H) or (L), or when an appropriate exchange visitors program exists (J)."  It is our experience that language using "internship" will be interpreted by the U.S. DOS as a program activity requiring J status.
    • B-2 status (Visitor for Pleasure): An international visitor entering in B-2 status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In all cases, we recommend that departments invite visitors in B-1, rather than B-2, status.

    Requesting B-1 Status: Scholars who come to UTRGV for consulting, conferences, independent research, etc., for fewer than six months should enter the U.S. in B-1 status.

    The scholar should request B-1 status be granted them at the port of entry, when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer is preparing to stamp the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Presentation of the letter of invitation from the UTRGV inviting department should be presented at this point.

    To offer B-1 business status to short-term visitors, an academic department must issue a letter of invitation to the visitor.

    Overview

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. as non-immigrants for up to 90 days for business or pleasure.

    Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver Program can neither engage in employment in the U.S. nor enroll in an academic study program.  The U.S. Department of State expressly indicates that the B-1 and, by extension, the WB, may be used for "independent research."

    Visitors in this status are not permitted to change to another visa category within the U.S., nor are they allowed to extend their stay beyond the 90-day period of admission.

    • Types of waivers: WB status (Visitor for Business): An international visitor entering in WB status holds a permanent residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and who is visiting the U.S. temporarily for business, such as consulting with business associates; participating in scientific, educational, or professional conventions, conferences, or seminars; or undertaking independent research.  These must all be short-term, non-salaried academic activities. Persons in WB status may be reimbursed for reasonable business costs where UTRGV has a business purpose (e.g., inviting an expert speaker to a conference) and, if their activity on campus lasts no longer than nine days from beginning to end of their activity, can be granted an honorarium, provided that they will be granted honoraria from no more than five institutions during their stay in the U.S. The department's letter of invitation should indicate the types of activity that will be pursued, and these activities should correspond to those indicated as acceptable for the B-1/WB classification by the U.S. Dept. of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html). If activities do not conform to those listed, the U.S. Dept. of State may require a visa, such as a J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, in which case the department will need to go through the J-1 request procedure.   Note that the U.S. Dept. of State indicates the following about student training and B-1/WB status in notes to its Foreign Affairs Manual: "aliens, often students, who seek to gain practical experience through on-the-job training or clerkships must qualify under INA 101(a)(15)(H) or (L), or when an appropriate exchange visitors program exists (J)." It is our experience that language using "internship" will be interpreted by the U.S. DOS as a program activity requiring J status.
    • WT status (Visitor for Pleasure): An international visitor entering in WT visa status has recreational intent, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, and activities of a social nature. In all cases, we recommend that the department invite visitors in WB, rather than WT, status.
  • Requesting WB Status

    Citizens of the following countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program:

    • Andorra
    • France
    • Liechtenstein
    • South Korea*
    • Australia
    • Germany
    • Lithuania
    • San Marino
    • Austria
    • Greece
    • Luxembourg
    • Singapore
    • Belgium
    • Hungary
    • Malta
    • Slovakia
    • Brunei
    • Chile
    • Iceland
    • Monaco
    • Slovenia
    • Czech Republic
    • Ireland
    • Netherlands
    • Spain
    • Denmark
    • Italy
    • New Zealand
    • Sweden
    • Estonia
    • Japan
    • Norway
    • Switzerland
    • Finland
    • Latvia
    • Portugal
    • United Kingdom
    • Taiwan
    • Republic of Korea

    Nationals of the above countries are not required to obtain non-immigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate to visit the U.S.

    This is a Department of Homeland Security travel authorization system. A VWP traveler should apply for ESTA at least 72 hours in advance of arrival to the U.S.

    To apply for ESTA, visit: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/.

    Travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at a U.S. port of entry or a U.S. embassy or consulate.

    The following documents are required to apply for the Visa Waiver Program:

    • A valid machine-readable passport
    • Evidence of intent to return to the home country in 90 days (example: round-trip airline ticket)
    • Proof of financial support
    • Invitation letter from UTRGV

    For more information, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

    Upon entry, VWP applicants will request WB status from the U.S. Port of Entry Officer. There is no "visa application process;" no visa (stamp from the U.S. consulate) is required prior to entry.

    However, the visitor must provide certain documents and must enroll in the ESTA program prior to coming to the U.S.

    VWP entrants do not receive a Form I-94, unlike persons admitted in all other non-immigrant classifications. Instead, the WB (or WT) status indication is stamped in the passport directly by the officer at the port of entry.

    One should not enter the U.S. on the VWP program if there is any possibility to stay in the U.S. longer than 90 days, change to another status, or receive payment of salary.

  • Employees with EAD - Rules & Regulations

    International persons in certain immigration statuses may have an EAD issued by USCIS.  An international person who is permitted to apply for EAD should do so at least 120 days before employment begins. 

    Employee Must Have EAD In Hand Before Employment Begins: An international employee should not be at the place of employment or begin working before the approved EAD start date. The actual plastic EAD itself must be in the possession of the employee before employment can begin.  Note this very important distinction:  it is not enough to have EAD approval either from the USCIS website or in paper form. A person in possession of a valid and unexpired EAD may work in the United States only during the validity dates written on the EAD itself. Again, note that the international employee cannot begin working (at UTRGV or any other place of employment) until the EAD start date and must stop working on the EAD end date.

    EAD Renewals: In some situations, the EAD can be renewed; in other situations it cannot.  The international employee will know whether his or her EAD is renewable.  If the EAD can be renewed, the international employee must ensure that the renewal application is filed with USCIS at least 100 days before the current EAD expires. In general, a pending EAD application does not provide permission to work, so persons with a pending EAD application cannot work in the United States.  The only exception to this rule is for F-1 Students who are STEM-OPT eligible and Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs in a new USCIS rule in these situations, an employee who has an expired EAD will be able to provide that expired EAD in combination with Form I-797C, Notice of Action, for the renewal application as a List A document for Form I-9.

    Finally, to provide additional stability and certainty to U.S. employers and individuals eligible for employment authorization in the United States, this final rule changes several DHS regulations governing the processing of applications for employment authorization. First, to minimize the risk of any gaps in employment authorization, this final rule automatically extends the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Forms I-766) in certain circumstances based on the timely filing of EAD renewal applications.

    Specifically, the rule automatically extends the employment authorization and validity of existing EADs issued to certain employment-eligible individuals for up to 180 days from the date of expiration, as long as:

    • A renewal application is filed based on the same employment authorization category as the previously issued EAD (or the renewal application is for an individual approved for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) whose EAD was issued under 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(19));
    • The renewal application is timely filed prior to the expiration of the EAD (or, in accordance with an applicable Federal Register notice regarding procedures for renewing TPS-related employment documentation) and remains pending; and
    • The individual's eligibility for employment authorization continues beyond the expiration of the EAD and an independent adjudication of the underlying eligibility is not a prerequisite to the extension of employment authorization.

    Concurrently, DHS eliminates the regulatory provisions that require adjudication of the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765 or EAD application) within 90 days of filing and that authorize interim EADs in cases where such adjudications are not conducted within the 90-day timeframe. These changes provide enhanced stability and certainty to employment-authorized individuals and their employers while reducing opportunities for fraud and protecting the security related processes undertaken for each EAD application

    If the new EAD is not in hand at the time the previous EAD expires, the employee will be placed on leave without pay until the new EAD is received.  If it takes longer than six weeks to receive the new EAD, the employee will be terminated but can be rehired once the new EAD is received.  To avoid these difficulties, the employee should ensure that USCIS has the EAD renewal application at least 100 days before the current EAD expires.

    Permissible Activities for Employee without EAD: As it pertains to UTRGV employees with EAD, please note that UTRGV must comply with federal immigration regulations and employment cannot begin before the EAD start date unless the employee has another type of valid and unexpired work authorization document.  UTRGV departments are also cautioned against having an international employee on work premises engaging in work related activities before the EAD or employment authorization start date.  An international employee who engages in work related activities or employment before EAD begins, is in violation of immigration status.  The University cannot violate federal regulations and international employees should not violate their immigration status by engaging in unlawful employment.  Departments and employees should contact the IS office to discuss employment issues if there is a concern as to when an international employee with EAD can begin working.