Permission to temporarily be in the USA is accompanied by expectations that the visa holder will confirm to the expectations and limitations that are included in their visa status classification. 

Each category of visa status has different rules. Even though the activities of a J-1 research and an H-1 researcher might look the same, the law applies to completely different sets of rules to each person. Each individual must comply only with the rules that apply to their visa status. 

If there are questions about any of the information below, please reach out to an International Scholar Services counselor. 

Report Changes of Residential Address / AR-11

Timely Report Any Change of Residential Address

What is Required? 

US law requires all foreign nationals residing in the US to update their address with the relevant government agency within ten (10) days of any move or change. This is critical to maintaining your status in the USA. There are no exceptions to this obligation. 

How Do You Do This? 

J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors

Regulations require J-1 and J-2 exchange visitors to notify their sponsoring institution of any change in residential address within 10 days. The sponsor (e.g. Purdue University) is required by regulation to update SEVIS with the new address. Accordingly, when the exchange visitor notifies their institution of their new address, this satisfies the legal requirement to report the new address. 

At Purdue University, J-1 scholars - which includes short-term scholars, research scholars, specialists, J-1 professors, and visiting undergraduate students - report address changes to the International Scholar Services team using MyISS. 

H-1B, E-3, O-1 and TN Workers

For work visa holders, address change notifications to USCIS may be done using the online Form AR-11 or through the mail using a printable Form AR-11 that must be sent to USCIS through mail or courier delivery. Information about this requirement is online here. International Scholar Services generally does not assist in this process. 

  • If you move within the USA between the time that International Scholar Services files the petition and the time you start your Purdue employment, you must submit an AR-11 change of address to USCIS, either in electronic or print form. 
  • If you are outside the USA at the time that International Scholar Services files the petition and the time you start your Purdue employment, the only way to submit the AR-11 is by printing the form, completing it and then mailing it to USCIS. We strongly recommend tracking and documenting delivery and retaining a record of your compliance with this obligation.

What are the Possible Consequences if You Do Not Give Notice? 

A willful failure to give written notice to the USCIS of a change of address within 10 days of moving to the new address is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, you could be fined up to $200 or imprisoned up to 30 days, or both. Compliance with the requirement to notify the USCIS of any address changes is a condition of your stay in the United States and a failure to do so therefore means you could be subject to removal from the United States. Failure to comply could also jeopardize your ability to obtain a future visa or other immigration benefit. If you realize that you have missed the 10-day deadline, you should still file your address change at the earliest opportunity. 

 

Know Your Limits - Extensions / Changes of Visa Status / Departures / Grace Period

US law considers that J-1, H-1B, E-3, O-1 and TN visa holders are authorized to remain in the USA only temporarily. There is an expectation that "unless something happens" you will depart the USA by no later than a certain date, and you are responsible for understanding what this date is. 

Most visa holders have two dates to monitor-

  • The end date of their permission to engage in their activities at Purdue
  • The end date of their permission to be physically in the USA
    • This is called the end of your authorized stay in the USA. For most visa holders, it is documented by the I-94 Record.

The End of Your Authorized Stay

Visa holders in the USA must do one of the following on or before the end date of their authorized stay.

  • Extend or renew their current visa status (if possible)
  • Change to a different visa status (if possible)
  • Depart the USA 

Extending / Renewing / Changing your Visa Status

If the individual wants to remain in the USA past the current end date of their stay, then their options are to either extend or renew their current visa status, or change to a new visa status. 

     Extending or Renewing

All visa statuses are temporary, which means that not only does each indiviudal have an end date assigned to their stay in the USA, but the law also imposes a maxmimum duration on the visa status classification. You may check the information in the visa status summaries here on this website to see what the maximum duration for your visa status classification is.

In general, Purdue sponsors individuals for either the length of their appointment/offer or the maximum duration, whichever is shorter. If your initial appointment or offer was shorter than the maximum duration, then you might be able to extend your current visa status. For example, the maximum duration for the H-1B classification is 6 years, issued in increments of 3 years. This means an H-1B extension is legally possible for most H-1B visa holders. Similarly, the maximum duration of the J-1 Research Scholar visa status classification is 5 years, so extension of J visa status is legally possible in most cases.  

Even if you have held the visa status for the maximum duration, the E-3 and TN classifications allow you to renew the same visa status without limitations, provided you maintain a strictly nonimmigrant presence (you maintain a foreign residence to which you could return). Similarly, the O-1 classification permits renewals, provided that you can identify a new "event" in which to engage. 

The H-1B classification does not accomodate renewals. If you have reached the maximum duration of H-1B status, then "post-sixth-year" extensions are available only if you have reached a specific point in your permanent residence process; if not, then you are ineligible for H-1B status until you have been outside the USA for an aggregate of 1 year.  

     Changing Visa Status

If the individual has reached the maximum duration of their current visa status, then they might be able to change to a different visa status. For example, most J researchers move to H-1B once they "max out" their J status. Most H-1B visa holders move to O-1 if they "max out" their H-1B status. 

One caution is to ensure that there is no obstacle to the move. The 212e home residence rule that can arise during J status impacts whether the individual may change status. If an individual is subject to 212e home residence, then they are ineligible for H-1B, L-1, or K-1 status (or permanent residence) until the home residence obligation has been fulfilled or waived. If an individual is subject to the 212e home residence rule and it has not been waived, then the law does not permit that individual to 'change status' from within the USA, but instead requires the individual to seek USCIS approval of the classification, then go abroad to seek a visa from a USA consulate, and then seek admission (again) to the USA. 

Timing

If the individual wants to extend or renew their current visa status classification, then

  • For J-1s, this must be processed by International Scholar Services before the end date in Box 3 of your DS-2019, to avoid interruption to your permissions
  • For H-1B, E3, TN and O-1 individuals, this request must be submitted to the government before the end of the current permission to engage in activities, which is either-
    • the end date listed in the upper right corner of your Form I-797 approval, or
    • the end date listed on your most recent Form I-94 Record
    • Whichever is SOONEST. 

Departing the USA

If a visa holder is not remaining in the USA as outlined above, then they must timely depart the USA-

  • J-1 exchange visitors have a 30-day grace period by law
    • This means that J visa holders have until the end of their grace period to depart the USA.
    • To calculate this, begin on the day after the end date in Box 3 of your DS-2019, and count 30 days. You must depart the USA on or before the 30thy day.
  • H-1B, E-3, TN and O-1 individuals are eligible for a 10-day grace period, but this must be granted to them by the government in order for those days to be available. If it was granted, it will appear in the I-94 record -- the end date will be a date that is ten days beyond the end date of your activities permission from your I-797 approval. 
    • Find the most recent I-94 record issued to you. This might be the Form I-797 approval issued for your petition or, if you have traveled since the petition was approved, it might be the I-94 record issued to you by the CBP when you returned to the USA. 
    • You must depart the USA on or before the end date on the most recent I-94 Record.

60-day Grace Period

The law also provides for discretionary grace period of up to 60 days for H-1B workers whose employment has been terminated by the employer prior to the Form I-797 approval notice.  H-1B workers do not automatically receive this grace period. It may be requested as part of another request to the government - usually as part of an H-1B petition by a new employer seeking to hire the worker after their prior H-1B employment was terminated. The USCIS will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the prior termination and the current request, and if  they approve the request, the grace period can bridge the gap between the termination of the prior H-1B employment and the start of the new H-1B employment. Note that this grace period is only available where the H-1B worker was involuntarily terminated, and not where they resigned, nor if the prior approval simply expired without extension. 

Maintain Your Passport

Regulations require foreign visitors to the USA maintain their passport at all times.

As part of this, it is a requirement of immigration law that you prove that you hold a valid and unexpired passport in order to qualify for extensions of stay in the USA. This is done by providing a copy of the unexpired passport during the extension process. The passport shoudl be valid for the duration of the requested stay in the USA.

International Scholar Services does not assist with passport extensions. Each nation coordinates the extension of passports by their citizens differently. In many cases, applications for passport renewal are submitted to the nation's embassy or consulate in the USA. In some cases, the passport appplication must be directed to a passport authority in the home country.

Be sure to confirm the process and timeline for passport renewal in your situation at least 6 months prior to the expiration of your passport, to ensure timely processing.

How to Maintain H-1B / E-3 Status

When the US government approves H-1B or E-3 'specialty occupations' status, the  approval is specific to the details contained in the paperwork. 

Purdue University's H-1B and E-3 employees are authorized only for employment that-

  • Is in the Purdue department named in the Form I-129 petition
  • Is at the specific address(es) listed in the Form I-129 petition and accompanying certified Labor Condition Application (LCA)
  • Is for no less than the wage promised in the LCA 
  • Is on a full-time basis
  • Comprises the duties described in the immigration paperwork
    • For H-1Bs - the duties listed in the Form I-129 petition  H Supplement
    • For E-3s - the duties listed in the Offer Letter and the E-3 Support Letter
How to Maintain TN Status

Purdue University's TN employees are authorized only for employment that-

  • Is in the Purdue department that issued the Offer
  • Is for no less than the wage promised in the Offer
  • Comprises the duties described in the Offer and TN Support Letter, and
  • Fits within the USMCA Appendix 2 profession named in the TN Cover Letter

 

How to Maintain O-1 Status

Purdue University's O-1 employees are authorized only for employment that-

  • Is in the Purdue department listed in the O-1 petition
  • Is for no less than the wage listed in the O-1 petition
  • Comprises the duties described in the listed in the O-1 petition, and
  • Remains within the area of extraordinary ability
How to Maintain J-1 Status

To maintain J status you must-

  • Engage in activities that are consistent with the program objective submitted to International Scholar Services
  • Provide those activities from either the primary worksite or the additional worksites reported to International Scholar Services (all of which are listed in SEVIS). You additionally must notify us via MyISS if
    • you acquire a new primary or secondary worksite, or
    • your primary worksite changes
  • Report early completion of your program activities so that we can update the end date of your SEVIS program.
    • MyISS > Intent to End eform
  • Report early departure from the USA if you abandon your program objectives, again, so that we can update in SEVIS the end date of your program
    • MyISS > Intent to End eform
  • Maintain the required health insurance for you and your family members
    •  
Making Changes to Your Authorized Activities

In general, as noted above, visa holders are limited to engaging ONLY in the activities described in their immigration paperwork - and only exactly as described in that paperwork.

If an individual or their Purdue unit wants to change the activities in which the individual will engage, then you must contact intlscholars@purdue.edu to notify us. Things that are normal changes within a role or position might nonetheless violate your immigration status. Our office needs to have the opportunity to evaluate the situation so that we can provide the individual and the unit with the appropriate guidance. There are procedures to follow in most cases that can authorize the new activities. 

Please email intlscholars@purdue.edu if you have questions or concerns, or if a change is going to happen within your employment. 

Status versus Studies

When you work or research at an institution such as Purdue University, it is a natural thing to also want to study here. US immigration law generally is organized around specific activities. When a foreign worker or researcher is admitted to the US in a specific visa status, the assumption is that the activities that underlies that visa status will be the individual's primary activity-

  • A J-1 exchange visitor will primarily engage in research (or teaching)
  • An H-1B / E-3 / O-1 / TN worker will primarily engage in their job duties

Trying to attend a degree program, or otherwise trying to attend classes on a fulltime basis, conflicts with this assumption in the law. The law is not structured to accomodate a person being both a worker and a student, or both a researcher and a student, at the same time. 

Accordingly, to maintain your current status, you must not engage in fulltime academic activities. Part-time programs of study are generally permitted, provided all other aspects of your status are being maintained.

Changing Status to Become a Student

As noted, US immigration law is structured so that any given visa status is associated with a specific activity. Engaging in fulltime or degree programs is permitted only within F-1 or J-1 student status. Note- J-1 student status is a completely separate immigration category from any other J-1 program.

Each of the sub-categories of J-1 status (research scholar, short-term scholar, professor, specialist, visiting undergraduate student) are distinct within SEVIS and the law. Changing J-1 categories is a cumbersome and sometimes time-consuming legal process that SEVIS does not easily accomodate. If you are interested in moving into fulltime academic studies, you must consult with the Designated School Official for your intended institution as early as possible in the process. It is likely that you may need to depart the USA, apply for a student visa in your home country, and then re-enter the USA. 

Volunteering

Volunteer activities generally encompass (1) charity work, for (2) non-profit organizations. Both these elements need to be present for the activity to be considered volunteering. 

Even though Purdue University is a non-profit institution, the opportunities to volunteer for Purdue still are limited. Purdue's research or educational mission are not "charity".  Purdue employs people to work in its research and educational spaces. The law does not allow for a volunteer and an employee to be engaged in the same tasks in the same space. As a result, visa holders cannot "volunteer" for a research laboratory, or "volunteer" to work in a Purdue classroom or office. Purdue's policy on volunteering, and its HR Manual for volunteers, explain this further. 

Services, tasks, labor or any other form of assistance that are provided to a 'commercial' business may never be considered to be "volunteering", by law. In other words, US law will not allow a person to "volunteer" to help a business. This is the case even if the business is not incorporated; if the activities are undertaken in order to generate a profit for services or products that are 'sold', then the activities that accompany those services or product can never be considered "volunteering". Basically, if a business is involved, then the participants are either working for pay, or working for free, but it is still considered work. 

Activities that are labeled as volunteering, but do not involve both a non-profit organization AND a charitable activites, are not truly volunteering activities. Simply calling something a volunteer activity does not change how the law views it. Often, the activity is really "working for free" rather than "volunteering".  Visa holders may not engage in work that is unauthorized, regardless of whether it is for wages or for free. 

Occasional Consultations and Lectures

Consultations and Lecturers

Many visa holders are asked to speak, present or consult at or for other institutions in the USA. In exchange, the institutions may offer to provide the individual with an honorarium, or with reimbursement of expenses, or occasionally with a per diem payment. 

J-1 Scholars

The law permits J-1 exchange visitors to engage in occasional lectures or short-term consultations at other institutions or sites in the USA.  The lectures or consultations must: (i) be directly related to the objectives of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's program, (ii) be incidental to the J-1 Exchange Visitor's primary program activities, (iii) not delay the completion date of the J-1 Exchange Visitor's program, and (iv) be documented in SEVIS.

H-1B, E-3, TN and O-1 Workers

In general, engaging in the occasionally professional activity "at" another institution's premises, is permitted by law. The assumption generally is that if a Purdue employee is engaging in such activities, Purdue benefits from the enhanced reputation of its employee and thus the activities are a part of the individual's appointment at Purdue.

Reimbursements, Honorariums and Other Payments

In general, temporary visa holders in the USA may receive funds only in accordance with the terms listed in their immigration paperwork. 

General Rule

J-1 Scholars are permitted to received payments only described on their Form DS-2019. The exception is if they have prior written authorization by a Responsible Officer or an Alternate Responsible Officer for any other payment.

H-1B, E-3, TN and O-1 employees may receive wages only from the US employer who sponsored their visa status. If a US organization that is not the individual's employer wants to give funds to the individual, then they must be very careful. 

Honorariums

J-1 Scholars may be compensated (such as through the payment of an honorarium) for occasional off-campus lectures, consultations, or seminars only if they receive prior written authorization from our office, and again, this must relate to your program objective. (Note: Scholars sponsored by Fulbright, or other Exchange Programs must contact their program sponsor for specific information and instructions.)

H-1B, E-3, TN and O-1 employees must be much more careful. It is generally accepted that these workers may not receive honorariums or per diems, because these are forms of compensation for services, similar to a wage, but are not from the US organization that employs (and sponsors) the worker. 

Reimbursements

J-1 Scholars may be reimbursed for occasional off-campus lectures, consultations, or seminars only if they receive prior written authorization from our office, and again, this must relate to your program objective. (Note: Scholars sponsored by Fulbright, or other Exchange Programs must contact their program sponsor for specific information and instructions.)

H-1B, E-3, TN and O-1 employees may receive reimbursements of expenses, because the payment "zeros-out" a specific expenditure by the individual. We strongly recommend that the worker retain receipts to demonstrate, if asked, that the payment received was a reimbursement of the documented expenses.