Currently 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.
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