USCIS to begin accepting H-4 work authorization applications May 26

20 May 15

UNITED STATES

On May 26, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications for employment authorization from H-4 spouses of H-1B employees, under a new regulation. USCIS has released guidelines and an FAQ on the new rule.

The rule allows certain H-4 dependent spouses to obtain work authorization as long as the H-1B employee has an approved Form I-140 or has been granted an extension of stay beyond the initial six-year period under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act (AC21).

Under the new procedures, eligible H-4 spouses may apply by filing the standard Employment Authorization Document Application Form I-765 with supporting evidence. EAD applications are currently taking at least three months to process.

When it issued the regulation in February, the Department of Homeland Security predicted a heavy application volume, especially in the first year. USCIS has shifted resources to handle the new filings over the next two months, which should help alleviate delays.

BAL Analysis: The regulation has been extremely well-received by H-1B employees and their H-4 spouses. Applicants planning employment start dates should keep in mind that current processing times are estimates and could run longer, as USCIS is expecting to receive a large number of applications under this much-anticipated regulation.   

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