USCIS put into effect a new rule on May 26, 2015, allowing certain H-4 spouses to apply for work authorization. Previously, USCIS did not provide work authorization to any H-4 spouses. Since last Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began accepting applications for employment authorization from H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status. Premium processing is not available for this application.
To qualify, the H-1B beneficiary spouse must be the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or must have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of AC-21. AC-21 allows H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the U.S. beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.
An H-4 spouse only qualifies for work authorization if he or she has maintained lawful status in the U.S. and is present in the U.S. Accordingly, this means that the H-1B worker must also remain in lawful status to qualify. H-4 spouses with work authorization may continue to renew their authorization as long as they remain eligible. Employment authorization for H-4 spouses is also unrestricted, meaning that such authorization is not limited to a specific employer and it does not prohibit self-employment or entrepreneurial ventures.
Berardi Immigration Law regularly prepares work employment applications for clients holding a variety of statuses. If you believe you or your spouse may qualify for an EAD, please contact our office today to speak with one of our attorneys.