As explained in a post earlier this year, H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B holders will be able to obtain employment authorization documents in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulatory changes. This regulation, as we previously reported, will come into effect on May 26, 2015. However, not all H-4 dependents will be eligible. The current estimates are that 179,600 H-4 visa holders will be eligible for this new rule and 55,000 annually thereafter.

H-4 EAD Rule Eligibility

Much to the dismay of many dependent spouses, this new H-4 EAD rule has specific qualifications. First, in order to qualify, the principal H-1B visa worker must be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 or extended their status on H-1B past the six years (based on the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act).


I-140 Approval Details

When it comes to the I-140 approved petition, there are nearly no restrictions. It can be in any employment-based category that utilizes the I-40. These include EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3. Moreover, it does not have to been approved a minimum time period. Be prepared to submit a copy of the approval notice along with the other required documents.

What’s great about this new regulation is the EAD offers unrestricted employment authorization plus it can be used to work full or part-time for any employer in the field or position. Be aware however that minors with H-4 status are not eligible to apply for EADs under this updated H-4 EAD rule even if they are old enough to work.

Process to Obtain H-4 EAD Work Permit

The process to obtain a work permit with the new H-4 EAD rule is relatively simple. First, file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization in addition to the necessary supporting evidence. Examples include:

  • marriage certificate to prove spousal relationship to H-1B holder
  • H-4 holder’s I-94 copy
  • Copies of passports
  • Copy of spouse’s I-94
  • H-4 spouse’s approved H-1B notice

You’ll be responsible for the $410 filing fee plus an $85 biometrics fee and once granted an approval, the card will be issued within a 90-day window. We anticipate that in most cases, approved individuals will receive their EAD for H-4 authorization card by August 26. To ensure a timely filing process, it’s best to work alongside a qualified EAD immigration attorney.

Summary of H-4 EAD Rule Requirements

To be eligible for the employment authorization cards, the principal H-1B worker must:

Have an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.


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. This basically allows non-immigrants who are seeking permanent residency to stay in the U.S. past the 6-year H-1B limit.

Adjudicating Period 

The DHS has commented numerous times that they believe this new H-4 EAD rule will have many long-lasting benefits for H-1B families. Not only will it facilitate a smoother transition for immigrants but will also support the domestic economy by encouraging jobs. USCIS Director León Rodríguez went on the record saying that extending eligibility “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.”

We predict that the time regular time frame for adjudicating these cases will be about 90 days. Although there may be longer processing times for those who are currently requesting an extension or change of status during the EAD application process. Again, adjudicating times may vary from case to case.

How VisaNation Law Group’s H-4 EAD Attorneys Can Help

VisaNation Law Group attorneys can further explain the H-4 EAD rule update during your consultation. During which we’ll also go over your particular eligibility requirements. With years handling all sorts of H-1B cases, we’re more than able to process your EAD paperwork and guide you along the way. Call us to schedule your consultation and learn about how you can benefit from the new H-4 EAD rule update.


Tags: H-4