USCIS to Begin Accepting Applications for Employment Authorization Documents for Certain H-4 Spouses on May 26, 2015

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On May 26, 2015, USCIS will begin accepting applications for employment authorization (Form I-765) for certain spouses of H-1B foreign national workers.

The H-1B foreign worker must 1) be in valid H-1B status in the United States and 2) must also be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 immigrant visa petition for an alien worker. If the principal H-1B holder meets both of these requirements, his or her spouse who is 1)  the United States and 2) in valid H-4 status may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD or “work permit”) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The EAD application is submitted to USCIS on Form I-765 and must be submitted in paper form. USCIS is not currently accepting electronic EAD applications for H-4 spouses. In order to ensure prompt processing of these applications, USCIS recommends that individuals applying for this benefit use the I-765 Application Form version date 02/13/2015.  Qualified applicants should list “(c)(26)” as the authorizing regulatory authority for employment authorization.

Individuals currently in valid H-4 status who qualify for employment authorization under this new rule should receive an EAD that is valid for the duration of their current H-4 status.  Individuals who are seeking to apply for or renew their H-4 status in the United States can submit their I-765 EAD application concurrently with their I-539 Application for a Change/Extension of Status.

EAD applications for qualified H-4 spouses will not be accepted by USCIS until May 26, 2015.  There is no deadline for applying for this benefit.  H-4 spouses who qualify for employment authorization under this new rule are eligible to apply for an EAD at any time after May 26, 2015.

Importantly, H-4 spouses are not authorized to work in the United States until they receive their approved EAD.  USCIS processing times for these applications run two (2) to three (3) months.

For more information on the employment authorization benefit for certain H-4 spouses, please contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.

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Kolko & Associates is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, German, and Slovak, and we can arrange for translators in any other language.