H-4 Employment Authorization
On February 24th, 2015 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced they will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking lawful permanent resident status. USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015.
Individuals who are eligible to apply must meet one of the following criteria:
- His/Her H-1B spouse is the principle beneficiary of an approved Form I-140: or
- His/Her H-1B spouse has been granted an extension beyond the six year limit on their H-1B status based on a pending PERM application.
To apply for employment authorization, eligible H-4 spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and a filing fee of $380.00. Once USCIS approves the form I-765 and the H-4 receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), he/she may begin working in the United States.
This new rule is an important part of Obama’s executive action on immigration designed to modernize the immigration system and boost the economy. The changes are expected to minimize the economic stress current H-1B families experience as they wait for their green cards, which should reduce the chance these H-1B workers choose to leave the United States. The rule will also bring U.S. immigration policies in line with other nations that compete to attract highly skilled workers.