By Senior Attorneys in the U.S. Department, Nashwa Azzam and Morgan Rosinia

While spouses of H and L visa holders (those with H-4 and L-2 visas) have been allowed to apply for work authorization in the U.S., lately the processing times for these applications have become quite lengthy and have led to unwelcome disruptions in employment for those affected by the increasing wait times.  This has left many employers and families in uncomfortable situations with regards to finances and planning for the future.

Therefore we are pleased to announce recent changes in employment authorization guidelines for spouses of H and L visa holders:

AILA and its litigation partners entered into a settlement agreement with DHS that provides structural changes for H-4 and L-2 spouses suffering from long delayed processing times for the processing of applications for employment authorization. (Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas, 11/10/21)

For H-4s:

Within 120 days of the Effective Date, USCIS will amend the receipt notice currently issued to applicants to detail the EAD auto-extension eligibility for those holding H-4 status based on the validity period provided on a Form I-94 in combination with a facially expired EAD and the Form I-797C receipt notice for a timely-filed I-765 EAD renewal application.

For L-2s:

USCIS will issue policy guidance that states that L-2 spouses are employment authorized incident to status and, in cooperation with CBP, change the Form I-94, within 120 days of the Effective Date, to indicate that the bearer is an L-2 spouse so that it can be used as a List C document for Form I-9 purposes.” (AILA Doc. No. 21111005)

KTA is monitoring the situation and will provide updated information once USCIS issues its guidance.