US immigration law provides many different paths to legal presence in the USA. Only a relatively small number require the involvement of an employer, such as Purdue University. Purdue University sponsors (supports) five different work authorizing immigration classifications: H-1B, E-3, TN, O-1 and J-1. Non-US persons seeking to engage in activities within any of these five classifications while receiving wages or other funding from Purdue University must be processed through International Scholar Services. 

However, there are dozens of ways a non-US person might obtain a lawful permission to work for or "at" Purdue University that does not require Purdue to directly sponsor their paperwork with the government.

Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

There are more than seventeen (17) different bases of eligiblity for applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD is a card (also known as Form I-688A, Form I-688B, Form I-766, or any successor document) that is issued by agencies within the Department of Homeland Security as evidence that the holder is authorized to work in the United States. An EAD, once issued by the US government is (by law) evidence of both identity and unlimited work authorization. Pathways to EADs include: 

  • The following dependent categories: E-1 spouses, E-2 spouses, E-3 spouses, J-2 spouses, H-4 spouses, and L-2 spouses; as well as spouses of A, G and NATO visa holders;
  • Individuals who applied for EADs pursuant to: Asylum, DACA, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or Humanitarian Parole
  • F-1 graduates with OPT or STEM Extension OPT
  • VAWA, U or T visa holders
  • Other situations, such as (but not limited to): suspension or cancellation of removal, settlement with the legacy INS, DHS or other agencies, other court actions or determinations, or other circumstances

Departments hiring non-US persons who hold EADs should onboard individuals with EADs in a similar way to how they hire and onboard any US worker; however, the department also should check with the Office of Export Controls to evaluate whether an additional screening should be performed, such as if the individual is being hired into a controlled or sensitive laboratory.

By law, an EAD may not be questioned by an employer unless there is obvious signs that the EAD does not relate to the bearer or has been altered in some way.

International Scholar Services does not support individuals who hold EADs because they have been independently evaluted by the US government to be work authorized; there is thus no immigration benefit that our office must request from the government on their behalf.


  • An EAD enables a person to volunteer only if the underlying activity is eligible to be performed by a volunteer. Thus, for example, a person cannot "volunteer" to engage in scholarly actiities and cannot otherwise "volunteer" to work in a role that normally is paid.
  • However, an EAD may authorize an individual for a visiting scholar appointment that is extended by an academic department at Purdue following the appropriate procedure

 Other Work Permissions

Non-US persons who are lawfully employed by other US organizations, universities or companies, may lawfully be assigned "at" Purdue University to engage in their job duties. Examples include H-1B or O-1 researchers employed elsewhere in the US for organizations that are collaborating with Purdue.

In these situations, ISS likely will not need to process an immigration benefit (permission) for the individual. HOWEVER, the individual likely will need a visiting scholar appointment with the department or other unit where the collaboration is occuring. As noted in the discussion about EADs, above, a non-US person cannot "volunteer" to engage in scholarly activities at Purdue University. Please work with your PISA Specialist for this. As part of this, the individual will be screened by the Export Controls Office prior to issuance of the visiting scholar appointment.