USCIS announced today that starting May 26, 2015 certain eligible H-4 dependents may apply for employment authorization (work permits). USCIS believes this change will reduce the economic burdens and stress that H-1B nonimmigrants and their families will have, especially when an H-4 dependent spouse is unable to work and generate income.
Eligible individuals under this new initiative include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:
1. Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
2. Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. 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 Director Leon Rodriguez states “Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense. It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
The number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years as estimated by USCIS.