Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses

February 25, 2015 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. This change is an important element of the immigration executive actions announced by President Obama in November 2014.

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who 1) are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien worker; or 2) have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000, as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B non-immigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyonds the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

In order to obtain employment authorization, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must first file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, along with supporting evidence and a $380 fee.

USCIS will begin accepting applications for employment authorization on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and issues the Employment Authorization Document, the H-4 dependent spouse may begin working in the United States.

If you have questions about the information included in this update, or wish to discuss making an application, please contact Green and Spiegel LLP.