Employment Authorization For Certain H-4 Status Holders

On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced (include hyperlink below) the extension of employment eligibility to certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant status holders.

The H-1B visa category, heavily utilized in the U.S., is an employment-sponsored temporary visa category available to those employed in specialty occupations by U.S. employers.  Spouses and minor children of H-1B status holders are eligible for H-4 nonimmigrant status when accompanying the primary H-1B status holder in the U.S.

Some employment-based nonimmigrant visa categories, such as the L-1 or E-2, already afford employment authorization to spouses accompanying the primary status holder in the U.S.  Over the last decade, there has been tremendous pressure placed on USCIS to extend employment authorization to other categories, including the H-4 category for spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant status holders.

USCIS’ recent announcement falls short of extending employment authorization to all spouses in H-4 status, but does extend in situations where: (1) the H-1B status holder is the beneficiary of an approved I-140, Immigrant Petition; and (2) the primary’s H-1B status has been extended beyond the six year limit based on 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 Act.

In short, the announcement by USCIS will provide some relief to spouses of H-1B status holders who are in what can be an excruciatingly long wait for U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Status.

For more information, please contact BHLG.

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