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Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses May Apply for Work Authorization Starting May 26, 2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today 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 nonimmigrants who are have applied for employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.  DHS has amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.

Finalizing the H-4 employment eligibility was an important element of the immigration executive actions President Obama announced in November 2014.

“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” Rodríguez said. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

-  Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker); or

-  Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. AC21 permits certain 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.

Under the rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with supporting evidence and the required $380 filing fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.

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