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Employment Authorization for H-4 dependent spouses available in May.

woman-1134419-m-1Currently dependent spouses on H-4 visas cannot lawfully seek employment in the United States, but that will be changing soon! The USCIS has officially announced that certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders may seek employment in the United States starting May 26, 2015.

Those eligible are H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B holders who are the principal beneficiary on an approved I-140 or the H-4 dependent spouses who have been granted H-1B status under section 106(a) and (b) of the American Competiveness in the Twenty-fist Century Act of 2000 (amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorizations Act).

The Department of Homeland Security predicts as many as 179,600 H-4 dependent spouses may be eligible for employment authorization during the first year of the implementation. Each year after, the number of H-4 applicants expected to apply for employment authorization drops to 55,000.

The Department of Homeland Security reported on public comments it received about the new H-4 EAD status. Of the comments received about 85% of the comments were in support of the extension of EAD to H-4 dependent spouses. Additionally, more than 60 commentators stated that because of the change in H-4 employment authorization they canceled plans to leave the United States and will now stay and continue to pursue Legal Permanent Residence.

H-1B holders cancelling plans to leave the United States because dependent spouses can seek work illustrates the significance of this change. An additional income and an option for both spouses to pursue a career track can have a big impact on families. With significant public support for the addition of H-4 EAD’s it is evident that many families are eager for this change and it seems likely that many families will utilize the ability to bring in an additional source of income.

India, a country that utilizes a significant portion of H-1B visas will significantly benefit from the addition of H-4 EADs. In 2012, of the 262,569 H-1B beneficiaries, 168,367 of the beneficiaries were from India. Considering that many H-1B holders move to the United States with their families, Indian families will greatly feel the impact of this announced change, while benefiting the United States economy as well. Many highly skilled employees come to the United States from India each year and allowing dependent spouses to work may bring even more skilled workers into the United States and retain the skilled workers that are already in the United States.

After May 26th, dependent spouses can apply for employment authorization and, if approved, will receive an EAD card. The EAD card allows the spouses to work legally in the United States. Additional paper work and filing fees must be sent to the USCIS to apply for employment authorization.

To apply for employment authorization on an approved H-4 or to discuss any other immigration needs contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Sweta Khandelwal is an experienced immigration attorney in the Silicon Valley area.

Cited Sources:

Characteristics of H1B Specialty Occupation Workers, Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report to Congress, October 1, 2011- September 30, 2012, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses, February 15, 2015, Department of Homeland Security

DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence, January 24, 2015, USCIS


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DACA Expansion and Creation of DAPA- Things to Know

Reforms are expected to be in place for undocumented foreign nationals applying for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and parents of United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Residences applying for DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents). As with all immigration changes, it’s important to educate yourself and be aware of timelines, requirements for applying, and the potential scams that often happen when such relief measures are announced


DACA is an immigration policy available to certain people who came to the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously for a certain period of time. DACA stops removal proceedings against the individual and allows work authorization for those who qualify.

As part of President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Reform announced on November 20, 2014, DACA will expand its eligibility requirements to include more people There will also be a new category created called DAPA.

The proposed changes to DACA were scheduled to take place in February of this year. However due to a federal court order the expansions have not been implemented yet. USCIS expects to begin accepting applications for DAPA in May of 2015.

Obama’s proposals include an increase in the group of people eligible for DACA. Previously DACA included those who entered the United States before the age of 16 and continued to live in the United States since June 15, 2007. Now DACA will include those who entered the United States before age 16 and lived here continuously since January 1, 2010. DACA will also expand the period of work authorization from two years to three years for those who qualify.

DAPA, which is expected to start accepting applications this May, is a new category to protect parents of United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Residence. Those approved for DAPA will be eligible to live in the United States temporary without the risk of deportation. Alike DACA, DAPA applicants may also be considered for work authorization.

While these changes are exciting and will benefit many families it is important to take the appropriate precautions to ensure your application is filed correctly. Those applying for DACA may be in a vulnerable position, in fear of deportation or other consequences. While childhood arrivals that reside in the United States may qualify for DACA, applicants should be careful to ensure they qualify and take steps to file their application correctly. Consulting an attorney is a good idea for those applying for DACA or DAPA status to receive legal advice specific to your individual situation.

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has issued a consumer warning listing 5 things to be aware of in regards to the changes to DACA and DAPA. AILA recommends getting legal advice when applying for DACA or DAPA. DACA and DAPA can be a confusing process and with the new changes in play, this may create additional confusion. An attorney can help you navigate the complicated legal process.

AILA’s warns applicants to take note of 5 things in regards to DACA and DAPA:

  1. DACA expansion and DAPA cannot be applied for yet.
  2. There are additional requirements for DACA and DAPA, not everyone will qualify for these classifications. Solely being a childhood arrival or a parent of a United States Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident is not the only requirement.
  3. Get legal assistance before applying to either DACA or DAPA.
  4. Make sure all the information is true and correct, submitting the wrong information can prevent you from gaining DACA or DAPA.
  5. There are many scams out there, beware of them and avoid them.

Consult the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal today to discuss the expansion of DACA and the intricacies of applying for DAPA. Ms. Khandelwal is an immigration attorney located in Silicon Valley with over 10 years of experience in the field.

Cited Sources:

Executive Actions on Immigration, March 3, 2015, USCIS

Consumer Alert on DAPA and DACA, February 12, 2015, AILA

Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), March 10, 2015, USCIS

You May be Able to Request DAPA. Want to learn more? January 30, 2015, USCIS

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