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USCIS Accepting Employment Authorization Applications for Certain H-4 Spouses

On May 26, 2015, USCIS began accepting applications for employment authorization from H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who have already begun the employment-based permanent residence process. The eligibility requirements for H-4 employment authorization were previously outlined in our February 24, 2015, blog post DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses.

In addition to submitting the required form, applicants are required to provide proof of current H-4 status, proof of relationship to H-1B spouse, and evidence that the H-1B spouse has reached the required point in his/her employment-based permanent residence process.

H-4 spouses will not be authorized to work until USCIS approves the employment authorization application. The expiration date of the employment-authorization document (EAD) will generally be the same as the expiration date of the most recent I-94 indicating H-4 status. Employment is only authorized through the expiration date on the EAD. If employment is desired beyond this date, a renewal application must be filed. Applications for renewal may continue to be filed as long as the H-4 spouse remains eligible for employment authorization.

Employment authorization granted to H-4 spouse is unrestricted. The EAD may be used to be employed by another person, a company, or organization, or the H-4 spouse may be self-employed or start a business. This includes situations that require the hiring of individuals as employees of their business.

Currently, applications for H-4 employment authorization may not be filed electronically and Premium Processing is not available for these applications.

USCIS estimates the number of H-4 spouses eligible to apply for employment authorization could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. There is no cap on employment authorization applications filed based on H-4 dependent spouse eligibility.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact our office.