Good News: USCIS Announces Plans to Ease Work Authorization Process for Certain E, L, and H-4 Spouses

Nov 16, 2021 | Nonimmigrant Visas

Following the settlement agreement in Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas, USCIS issued policy alert (“Policy”), clarifying details of Employment Authorization for Certain H-4, E, and L Nonimmigrant Dependent Spouses.

It addresses recent massive delays in adjudication of employment authorizations documents (EAD) because of USCIS backlogs, resulting in detrimental impact on E and L spouses.

Once of the biggest changes is the reexamination of previous USCIS “Guidance on Employment Authorization for E and L Nonimmigrant Spouses, and for Determinations on the Requisite Employment Abroad for L Blanket Petitions” (2002 Yates Memo). It provided that the spouses need to obtain an EAD in order to be able to work in the U.S. The recent Policy confirmed that E and L dependent spouses are employment authorized incident to their status and therefore they will no longer be required to request employment authorization by filing Form I-765. The Policy states that the L and E spouses will be able to engage in authorized employment immediately after obtaining their status. Such change can be effective once USCIS in cooperation with Customs and Border Protection agency will modify notations on I-94 form to distinguish employment authorized E and L dependent spouses from E and L dependent children who are not eligible for employment.

Until such I-94 changes are made, the spouses should continue to file Form I-765 if they choose to receive an EAD.

USCIS updated the interpretation and implementation of 8 CFR 274a.13(d) to provide that certain H-4, E, or L dependent spouses will qualify for the automatic extension if the certain conditions are met:

  • The applicants must properly file their applications to renew H-4, E, or L-based EAD before their expiration dates, and
  • The applicants must have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as an H-4, E, or L nonimmigrant, as applicable.

The Policy provides that the automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earlier of the end date on Form I-94 showing valid status, the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the date of expiration of the previous EAD.

Please contact WR attorney to discuss the specifics of their immigration case and how this settlement may impact it.

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