Home > Department of Homeland Security, H-1B Posts > USCIS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants

USCIS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants

February 25, 2015

On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants (principal beneficiaries) will be eligible to apply for employment authorization to work in the United States. Even though USCIS currently allows spouses of L and E visa holders to work in the U.S., the rule was not extended to spouses of H-1B visa holders until yesterday’s announcement. It is a welcome news to thousands of families who are in the U.S. in H-1B/H-4 visa status.

The rule comes with certain conditions though. In other words, it is not a blanket eligibility to all H-4 spouses. Only those H-4 spouses that meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply for employment authorization:

Criteria:
Employment authorization-eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

1. Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140 petition; or

2. Have been granted H-1B status based upon:
a) the filing of a labor certification application (365 days or more have elapsed since filing); or
b) the filing of Form I-140 (365 days have elapsed since filing).

Thus, the eligibility to file employment authorization application is offered only to H-4 spouses whose H-1B principal beneficiaries have an ongoing permanent residence (green card) process as described above. As such, the new rule will not apply to H-4 spouses whose H-1B principal beneficiaries do not have any ongoing green card process. It will not also apply to H-4 spouses whose principal beneficiaries have an ongoing green card process but do not otherwise meet the criteria described above.

Process to obtain Employment Authorization:
• Filing of Form I-765 with USCIS.
• Filing fee: $380.00
• Processing time: Approximately 60-90 days.

If you need assistance in filing an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) application, please contact our office.

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