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What H-4 Visa Holders Need to Know about Employment Authorization

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on March 16, 2015

Under new rules announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the end of February, beginning May 26, 2015, H-4 visa holders who are the dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders will be eligible for employment authorization. Before an H-4 visa holder starts working in the U.S., there are several things that they need to know about the new employment authorization rules.

First, the new rule applies only to the dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders. Children of H1-B workers still cannot legally work during college and age out of the system at 21.
Second, the dependent spouse H-4 visa holder must have already been approved for an I-140 immigrant petition for permanent residency (i.e. green card) OR been granted an extension to stay beyond the H-1B visa’s usual six-year limit under sections 106 (a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000.

If the H-4 visa holder meets these criteria, he or she must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization. If the application is approved, the H-4 visa holder will receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Thereafter, the H-4 visa holder is eligible for employment and may begin working in the United States.

USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015 and individuals should not submit an application to USCIS before the effective date. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) estimates that as many as 179,600 individuals could apply for employment authorization under this new rule in the first year, with 55,000 expected a year after that.

“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez in a press release. “It 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. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”

Contact an Employment Immigration Attorney

The immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group focus on helping employers with all of their immigration issues, as well as helping families obtain the necessary visa documents they need so that they can stay in the country. If you are an H-4 visa holder, and looking for an immigration law firm in Chicago, contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with our experienced U.S. employment immigration attorney.