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USCIS announces that H-4 EAD workers can now work while waiting for EAD Renewal and an EAD is no longer required for E-2 and L-2 Spouses to Work

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In settlement of several lawsuits, the USCIS recently announced significant changes to its policy regarding employment authorization documents (EAD) for certain H-4, E-2, and L-2 dependent spouses.  The following policy guidance is effective as of November 12, 2021:

  • The automatic extension rule will apply to  renewals of H-4, E-2, and L-2 EAD if (1) the EAD renewal application is filed before the existing EAD expires and (2) the applicant has an unexpired I-94 showing status as an H-4, E, or L nonimmigrant dependent spouse;
  • The automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earliest of: (1): the expiration date on Form I-94 showing valid status, (2) the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or  (3) 180 days from the date of expiration of the previous EAD.
  • For employers, the following combination of documents will serve as evidence of the automatic extension of the previous EAD, and are acceptable for Form I-9 purposes:
  • Form I-94 indicating the unexpired nonimmigrant status (H-4, E, or L),
  •  Form I-797C for a timely-filed EAD renewal application (Form I-765) stating “Class requested” as “(a)(17),” “(a)(18),” or “(c)(26),” and
  • The expired EAD issued under the same category (that is, indicating Category A17, A18, or C26).
  • E and L dependent spouses are automatically authorized to work incident to their status and therefore they are no longer required to request employment authorization by filing Form I-765.  However, such spouses can opt to file Form I-765 if they choose to receive an EAD.

Overall, these policy changes are good news for these EAD applicants, considering the extraordinary delays in EAD processing.

Resources: USCIS Policy Alert for H-4, L, and E dependent spouse work authorization

USCIS Settlement Is Good News For L-1 And H-1B Visa Spouses

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-393-4917, text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form. 

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