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H-4 Employment Authorization (EAD) Begins Effective May 26, 2015

H-4 Employment Authorization EAD 117004983Effective May 26, 2015, USCIS will begin accepting applications for H-4 employment authorization (EAD) from certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers who are currently seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the US.

Eligibility for H-4 employment authorization (EAD) will extend to H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who:

  1. Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or,
  2. Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21). AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the US beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

DHS expects that H-4 employment authorization will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B workers and their families may experience during their transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the US and facilitate their integration into American society. As such, H-4 employment authorization should reduce disincentives that may lead H-1B holders to abandon efforts to remain in the US while seeking lawful permanent residence, which will also minimize disruptions to the US businesses that employ them. In addition, H-4 employment authorization should also support the US economy because the contributions H-1B workers make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation. Finally, H-4 work authorization also will bring US immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.

USCIS will begin accepting applications for H-4 employment authorization on May 26, 2015. Once an H-4  spouse applies for and receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), s/he may begin working lawfully in the US.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for H-4 employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. USCIS reminds those potentially eligible that this rule is not considered effective until May 26, 2015. That is, individuals should not submit an application to USCIS before the effective date, and should avoid anyone who offers to assist in submitting an application to USCIS before the effective date.

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