Perspective: Kirton McConkie Law Blog

Eligibility extended for H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants

On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodriguez announced that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending 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. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants 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 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 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 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, 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. USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. USCIS reminds those potentially eligible that this rule is not considered effective until May 26, 2015. Individuals should not submit an application to USCIS before the effective date, and should avoid anyone who offers to assist in submitting an application to USCIS before the effective date.