New Rule: Some Spouses of H1B Visa Holders Will Receive Work Authorization

USCIS announced on Feb. 24, 2015 that the final rule allowing spouses of some H1-B visa holders to obtain work authorization was approved. The rule goes into effect on May 26, 2015.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under the new rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years.

Under the new rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file the revised Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization. Once the I-765 is approved and the H-4 dependent spouse receives their Employment Authorization Document (EAD), he or she may begin working in the United States.

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

  • Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

USCIS will begin accepting these H-4 EAD applications on May 26, 2015.