U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that effective May 26 it will extend employment authorization eligibility to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants. As of that date, an H-4 will be eligible to apply for work authorization if his or her H-1B spouse either (1) is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 immigrant visa petition, or (2) has been granted a one-year extension of his or her H-1B status based on 365 days or more having passed since the filing of an application for labor certification or an immigrant visa petition on his or her behalf. This is a very significant development, as eligible H-4s will be able to work during the (often lengthy) time gap between an H-1B spouse's I-140 approval and the time the lawful permanent residence cases are approved.

Eligible H-4s will not receive work authorization automatically. Rather, they must file an application for an employment authorization document (EAD), together with evidence of eligibility. Furthermore, H-4s cannot begin working until the EAD has been issued, which should take between 90 and 120 days.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss any specific H-1B employees whose spouses may be eligible for work authorization under the new rule.

The Business Immigration Team

Chambers USA and Chambers Global have consistently ranked Kramer Levin's Business Immigration Group within the top tier (Band One) of immigration practices. We are one of only two firms in New York to be so listed, and one of only six firms throughout the entire country to have this ranking. Our lawyers have been recognized for their excellence by Best Lawyers in America, Legal 500, Lawdragon, The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers (Corporate Immigration), Human Resource Executive and New York Super Lawyers. Ted Ruthizer was named New York's Immigration Lawyer of the Year for 2010 by Best Lawyers. We act as immigration counsel to many leading multinational companies in all sectors of the economy.