BREAKING NEWS: USCIS announced on February 2015 that certain H-4 spouse visa holders will be eligible for work permit (EAD) starting May 26, 2015. Click here to read our detailed post on this.
With President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Reform, new policies will permit work authorization to certain visa holders and expand the overall H-4 visa EAD options available. The sum of the changes is in an effort to encourage highly skilled workers to remain in the United States and create new opportunities. At this point in time, the following eligibility rules permit H-4 visa holders to ascertain employment authorization documents (EAD).
In order for an H-4 status holder to be eligible for an EAD they must meet one of the following points:
Have an approved I-140 (Immigrant Worker Petition)
Received an extension for authorized stay. The maximum amount of time an individual can stay on H1B visa status is six years (3 years at a time). After that duration, they must be outside of the country for a year before they can begin a new H1B. However, with the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) the individual can stay in the United States past the 6-year duration while their (PERM or Green Card) documents are processing.
Purpose of Expanding H-4 Visa EAD Options
The DHS initially announced the proposal to extend EADs to H-4 visa holders in order to “support economic growth… maintain competitiveness with other countries…and ensure we do not cede the upper hand to other countries competing for the same talent…”
What’s more, this initiative is meant to offset much of the effects resulting from recent economic conditions. This proposal would apply to nearly 100,000 individuals on H-4 visa status and 35,000 each year following.
Process for Permanent Resident Status
These proposed regulations would make great headway in the over process because apply for permanent residency can often take many years, and even face additional delays.
Requirements for Employment Authorization
While we don’t know exactly what documents will be required since the official instructions have yet to be released we expect DHS to require Form I-765 as well as the filing fee. The applicant must also show proof that the principle H1B nonimmigrant has an approved I-140 or has and LCA/I-140 that has been pending for more than a year.
Currently, there is little to go off of in terms of specific details for H-4 visa EAD options, aside from the information that the President has divulged. Final regulations have been tossed around this year.
Exploring Your H-4 Visa EAD Options
To determine what options are available to you with the upcoming changes, it’s best to consult an immigration attorney.
- Our H1B immigration attorneys are highly dedicated and competent when it comes to applying for employment authorization documents.
- We’ll help you understand the process each step of the way and ensure that all your papers are in order for the optimal outcome! Give us a call today to learn about your H-4 visa EAD options.
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