In the midst of the controversy surrounding portions of the President's Executive Action on immigration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made an important announcement confirming certain H-4 dependent spouses will be eligible to apply for employment authorization beginning May 26, 2015.
The final rule applies only to H-4 dependent spouses whose H-1B non-immigrant spouses are at a certain stage of the Lawful Permanent Resident (or "green card") process. More specifically, for an H-4 spouse to qualify for employment authorization, his or her H-1B non-immigrant spouse must be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 immigrant petition or have been granted H-1B status beyond the normal six (6) year maximum.
As noted in the press release from USCIS, finalizing the rule on H-4 employment eligibility was an important element of the President Obama's Executive Action, announced in November 2014. The intent of the rule is to take financial pressure off of H-1B non-immigrants and their families as they remain in the United States in H-1B status for numerous years awaiting final processing of their green-card applications.
To apply for employment authorization, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file an I-765 application with the requisite supporting evidence and the $380 filing fee. USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the I-765 application and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an approved Employment Authorization Document (EAD), he or she is authorized for employment in the United States.