Overview

Employees in H-1B, O-1, E-3, and TN immigration status are authorized to work solely on the basis of their paper Form I-797, Notice of Approval, which is issued after ISSS files a petition on their behalf with USCIS. However, there are many other types of work authorization individuals can obtain by virtue of being a dependent, student, or other individual eligible for work authorization without a petition being filed by a specific employer.

These other types of work authorization require a physical “work card” or “employment authorization document” (EAD) issued by USCIS—a paper approval notice alone is not enough. It looks basically like a driver license. Potential hires holding one of the following immigration statuses can apply for work cards on their own without needing any particular job offer or sponsorship directly from UAB/HSF and without needing assistance from ISSS. These individuals are responsible for filing Form I-765 with USCIS to extend their work authorization and keep it valid and for providing you with the necessary documentation to update their Form I-9. In most cases, ISSS will never be involved with the process. Unlike with H-1B work authorization, there is no mandatory cost to UAB/HSF for these individuals to apply for or extend their work authorization unless the department just decides to agree to pay the Form I-765 filing fee.

Types of EADs You May See

  • Asylum applicant (category C08): unrestricted US work authorization
  • DACA (category C33): unrestricted US work authorization
  • E-3D (category A17): unrestricted US work authorization
  • F-1 OPT (category C03A or C03B): unrestricted US work authorization as long as the job opportunity is in a field related to their major
  • F-1 STEM OPT (category C03C): work authorization tied to a training plan submitted by a particular employer for a particular job
  • H-4 (category C26): unrestricted US work authorization
  • J-2 (category C05): unrestricted US work authorization
  • L-2 (category A18): unrestricted US work authorization
  • TPS (Temporary Protected Status, category A12): unrestricted US work authorization
  • Work card based on pending green card application (C09): unrestricted US work authorization

Gaps and Oracle

USCIS processing times vary widely, and sometimes even the most carefully planned, early filed application or extension can be derailed by delays or requests for evidence. Most often, this happens when employees change immigration status from F-1 to H-1B, J-1 to H-1B, or J-1 to  O-1. Employees who cannot or do not provide evidence of valid work authorization before the expiration date must be placed on unpaid leave until proof of valid work authorization is provided. You must submit a "Personal Leave" ACT document with an effective date of the day after the employee’s work authorization expires, and then you must also submit a “Return From Leave” ACT document with an effective date of the start date of the new proof of work authorization the employee provides you. Employee are responsible for making sure that they update Section 3 of Form I-9 once the new proof of work authorization arrives.

When creating an ACT document, please select the actual underlying immigration status (i.e., F-1, H-4, TPS, etc.) instead of just “EAD” in the drop-down menu. “EAD” is not a type of visa, and it is not a type of immigration status. “EAD” is just a work card. USCIS is changing work authorization policies rapidly, and ISSS must be able to run reports by specific underlying immigration status to see who may be affected.