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. 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 USA only during the validity dates written on the EAD itself.
A person with EAD can work for any number of US employers. However, 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. Vanderbilt University is an E-Verify employer and additional information for Vanderbilt employees needing the STEM-OPT extension can be found here.
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. Again, note that the international employee cannot begin working (at Vanderbilt or any other place of employment) until the EAD start date and must stop working on the EAD end date.
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. This is the only way to ensure that the new EAD is approved and in hand 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 USA. The only exception to this rule is for F-1 Students who are STEM-OPT eligible. STEM-OPT is discussed below.
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 Vanderbilt employees with EAD, please note that Vanderbilt 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. Vanderbilt 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 can attend Orientation before the employment start date but the employee should not engage in any other work related activity outside of the Orientation activities. 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 OIS office to discuss employment issues if there is a concern as to when an international employee with EAD can begin working.
Special Rules for F-1 Students Who Are STEM-OPT Eligible:
Generally, a person with EAD can work for any US employer and a multiple of US employers. However, F-1 students with EAD solely due to a STEM-OPT extension can only work for an employer who has enrolled in E-Verify. Multiple employers are permitted, but each employer must be enrolled in E-Verify.
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.