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Scottish Mernymph

Volunteer work whilst awaiting work permit?

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1 minute ago, Scottish Mernymph said:

Would this be permissable? 

 

Would I be able to offer to volunteer somewhere that might employ me once I have a permit? 

Sure as long as you are not compensated in any way. It's safest to volunteer with actual organizations that are run by volunteers though. Non profits etc. That sort of thing.

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Posted (edited)

Nope, not if it is anything an American can do and be paid for.

Edited by Paul & Mary

March 2, 2018  Married In Hong Kong

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Volunteering is perfectly ok to do when the duties are always non paid. You cannot volunteer for something that would turn into a paid job. 

~~Moved to Working and Traveling, from AOS Family K1/K3~~


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1 minute ago, Ontarkie said:

Volunteering is perfectly ok to do when the duties are always non paid. You cannot volunteer for something that would turn into a paid job. 

~~Moved to Working and Traveling, from AOS Family K1/K3~~

Dang! (& sorry for posting in the wrong section )

 

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where I can find the rules regarding this please?

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Scottish Mernymph said:

Dang! (& sorry for posting in the wrong section )

 

Would you be able to point me in the direction of where I can find the rules regarding this please?

The rule is you cannot engage in any form of unauthorized employment. There are some guidelines (i.e. if compensated, it probably is employment), but the best advice was provided above in your quote.

USCIS policy manual: https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume7-PartB-Chapter6.html

"Unauthorized employment is any service or labor performed for an employer within the United States by a foreign national who is not authorized by the INA or USCIS to accept employment or who exceeds the scope or period of the foreign national’s employment authorization."

 

The thing is, what exactly qualifies as service or labor for an employer? These are not concrete items and the official definitions don't add much clarity.

While you're waiting for an EAD, you're basically in the same employment state as a tourist. Tourists have been denied entry due to unauthorized work for unpaid assistance with construction, unpaid internships, etc.

If it can reasonably displace a US-authorized worker, then it likely crosses the line.

Soup kitchen? Road cleanup? Reading to kids? No issue.

Unpaid assistant in a business? Likely not okay.

 

Edit: Note that work experience is compensation.

Edited by geowrian

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The way to think about it is: if an American would perform that work and it would be unpaid then it’s ok. For example, you volunteer to help at a Red Cross blood donation drive event to hang out t-shirts and drinks, where even if an America in your position is also volunteer and not paid. You can not “volunteer” to work as a receptionist at a hotel, even if you don’t get paid, because that is traditionally a paid position.

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5 minutes ago, geowrian said:

The rule is you cannot engage in any form of unauthorized employment. There are some guidelines (i.e. if compensated, it probably is employment), but the best advice was provided above in your quote.

USCIS policy manual: https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume7-PartB-Chapter6.html

"Unauthorized employment is any service or labor performed for an employer within the United States by a foreign national who is not authorized by the INA or USCIS to accept employment or who exceeds the scope or period of the foreign national’s employment authorization."

 

The thing is, what exactly qualifies as service or labor for an employer? These are not concrete items and the official definitions don't add much clarity.

While you're waiting for an EAD, you're basically in the same employment state as a tourist. Tourists have been denied entry due to unauthorized work for unpaid assistance with construction, unpaid internships, etc.

If it can reasonably displace a US-authorized worker, then it likely crosses the line.

Soup kitchen? Road cleanup? Reading to kids? No issue.

Unpaid assistant in a business? Likely not okay.

Thanks geowrian, it's helpful for my situation to have it in the terms laid out by the authorities, although as you rightly point out they aren't as exact as they might be. I really was hoping to make use of my skills & perhaps get a solid foot in the door locally but probably best to play it safe. 

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15 hours ago, Scottish Mernymph said:

Would this be permissable? 

 

Would I be able to offer to volunteer somewhere that might employ me once I have a permit? 

The key here is you want to volunteer somewhere to gain experience with that employer with the intent that they would later hire you for a paid job after waiting 6 months for EAD.  The work experience is a benefit, essentially deferred compensation.  Even though unpaid it sounds like your idea could be viewed as illegal work by USCIS down the road, since you want to do it in a way that would lead to employment.  That is a full-time unpaid internship with a company, not a part-time volunteer with a non-profit organization.  A gray area for sure, but be careful so it doesn't look like deferred compensation--"take me on as an unpaid employee for six months, with an agreement that I can continue and start getting paid after I get my EAD."

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