U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new regulation that will provide temporary employment authorization for certain H-4 visa holders . The regulatory change, effective May 26, 2015, will extend eligibility for work authorization to H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers who have already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status. Eligible individuals include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B workers who:

  • Have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted H-1B status in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit.

Please note that this regulation does not extend employment authorization to all H-4 spouses, only to those whose H-1B visa spouse has already completed at least the first step in the Green Card process. As our immigrant visa backlogs continue to grow, this regulation aims to provide temporary work authorization to H-4 visa holders whose spouses are awaiting immigrant visa numbers for their employer-sponsored Lawful Permanent Residency process.