By Nashwa Azzam Esq. and Jessica Morag Esq. |
Under newly implemented USCIS guidelines, E and L non-immigrant dependent spouses who entered the United States on, or after, January 31, 2022, will be eligible for immediate employment authorization upon entry to the US, with properly annotated I-94 documentation. Proper annotation on the I-94 will include an “S” after the respective category (E2S or L2S).
The new guidelines offer E and L spouses an immediate pathway to employment by receiving an automatically annotated I-94 upon entry to the US, thereby negating the need for an EAD card, which requires a lengthy application process, depriving the E and L spouse of work eligibility, during the interim period.
On the other hand, E and L spouses who were admitted to the US prior to January 31, 2022 and whose I-94 documentation lack the requisite stipulation, must still apply and wait for approval of a valid EAD card, which will provide such spouses with their required work authorization.
Because it is currently taking USCIS several months to process EAD applications for those who are now otherwise automatically eligible for employment authorization incident to their status upon arrival to the US, such individuals may want to consider departure and re-entry into the US, in order to obtain a newly annotated I-94 document while avoiding the lengthy EAD processing times. In such cases, it is recommended to seek the advice of an experienced Immigration Attorney in order to ensure compliance with the applicable guidelines.