Spouses of H1B holders/ H4 dependent spouses may apply for work authorization if they meet the new USCIS requirements
Great news for H4 holders
Great news for certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants! 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 nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
What is an H1B?
Let's step back for a moment. You may ask what is the H-1B?
The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The regulations define "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with some exceptions). H-1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer. Please call us for further consultation if you believe you or your employee may be eligible for the H-1B Visa.
How does the new law affect H4 visa holders?
Now, how does the new rule affect spouses of H1B holders? If your spouse has the H-1B Visa, then you are eligible for and/or already have an H-4 visa (H1B dependent spouse). Currently, H4 visa holders are not authorize to work in the United States. H4 visa holders were deprived of the opportunity to develop their careers and seek employment.
However, this will soon change! USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez announced on February 24, 2015 that, effective May 26, 2015, DHS is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status. DHS finally amended the regulations to allow these dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.
According to USCIS, "[e]xtending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants is one of several initiatives underway to modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs."
So who is eligible to apply for a work authorization? Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant. The H1B non-immigrant spouse must meet the following requirements: Specifically, the H1B holder:
1) is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
2) has 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 nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B Status.
This change will further support the U.S. economy because the contributions H-1B nonimmigrants make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation are enormous. USCIS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status. And so do we!
How can an H4 dependent receive a work permit?
Now what is the next step for eligible H-4 dependent spouses?
Under the new rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document. Once the H-4 dependent spouse gets approved and receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States!
USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. For further assistance, consult an immigration lawyer.