Employment Authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions which included initiatives to modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to grow US economy and create jobs. These initiatives benefit U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.

The Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule (H-4 rule) seeks to support the goals of attracting and retaining highly skilled foreign workers and minimizing the disruption to U.S. businesses resulting from H-1B nonimmigrants who choose not to remain in the United States and pursue Lawful Permanent Resident (aka Green Card Holder) status.

Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses (husband or wife) of H-1B nonimmigrants can qualify for Employment/Work Authorization provided that the H-1B nonimmigrant:

  • has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status and Is the principal beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition
  • has been granted H-1B status under ‘American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act’ (AC21)

This allows the H-4 dependent spouse (husband or wife) to seek lawful employment. (You must file Form I-765 along with supporting evidence and then receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS before you may begin working.)

This is an important step towards providing socio economic benefits to individuals who make huge contributions to entrepreneurship and research and development, and consequently to overall economic growth. This also brings U.S. immigration policies more in line with those of other countries that are also competing to attract and retain similar highly skilled workers.