Starting May 26, 2015, qualifying H-4 dependent spouses of H1B holders will be able to receive employment authorization documents (EADs) in conjunction with President Obama’s Immigration Action announced last year. In this post, we’ll explore the H4 EAD eligibility criteria as well as the process in-depth. 


The aforementioned extension was briefly covered in the President’s Action announced in November of 2014 but no official details had been made available until today. In total, nearly 179,000 individuals may be impacted by this new regulation.

According to USCIS Director León Rodríguez, extending the eligibility for H4 EAD “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.” Moreover, Rodriguez emphasized factor contributing to the country’s economic stability and overall quality of life for affected individuals and families. We’ve compiled the H4 EAD update rules below. Consult an immigration attorney to double check your eligibility.

EAD for H4 Eligibility Requirements

Just because you are an H4 visa holder does not mean you’ll automatically be eligible for the employment authorization cards. In order to be eligible, you must meet the below criteria.

EAD for H4 Eligibility


  • Been approved for H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. What this Act essentially does is allow non-immigrants who are seeking permanent residency to stay in the U.S. past the 6-year H-1B limit.

While details are still being revealed by USCIS, we can say that over 179,000 H4 visa holders will likely be eligible for permits and an additional 55,000 annually after that. We’ll continue to post articles on H4 EAD update as more information becomes available.

Process to Receive H4 EAD Work Permit

In order to file, fill out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization in addition to the necessary supporting evidence. There is also a $380 filing fee. Once you’re granted an approval, the card will be issued within a 90-day window. In most cases, approved individuals will receive their EAD for H4 authorization card by August 26.

Recap of Required Documents  

  • Proof of status either with current I-797 or I-94
  • Proof of relationship (i.e., marriage certificate)
  • Work authorization (approved I-140, H1B AC21 extension, passports, I-129)

For further clarification regarding the types of documents needed or any other information pertaining to H4 EAD eligibility criteria, it’s best to contact VisaNation Law Group’s Fort Lauderdale immigration lawyers directly.

Economic and Social Implications of H4 EAD Extension

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and many political leaders believe this long-sought change will have positive effects on the economy as well as the personal stresses experienced by H-1B families. It will also facilitate a more seamless integration into society. What’s more, the EAD for H4 changes will support our domestic economy by encouraging jobs and entrepreneurship.

It is estimated that this new change will enable approximately 97,000 H4 visa holders to obtain their employment authorization documents and discourage H1B holders from abandoning their pending green card or permanent resident applications because their H4 spouses can not legally work.

Advantages of H4 Visa EADs

Apart from the positive economic implications which we’ve mentioned there are a number of advantages to the H4 visa EAD including:

  • The ability for the EAD holder to work in the capacity of a full or part-time job for the employer and position of their choice (not limited to a particular field).
  • The option to start a business if EAD holder chooses to do so.
  • No prerequisite of having a special job offer in order to qualify.
  • No annual quota imposed for H4 EADs.

Have additional questions regarding the advantages, disadvantages or H4 EAD eligibility criteria and its process? Schedule your consultation today.



How VisaNation Law Group Can Help

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VisaNation Law Group's H1B lawyers can help you file the appropriate EAD forms and ensure you provide all the necessary evidence for approval. They'll carefully explain the H4 EAD eligibility criteria and process required to receive an H4 EAD. With years of experience handling H-1B cases, we have the knowledge and expertise to handle nearly any situation.

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