Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez announced that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.
Finalizing the employment ability for H-4 visa holders was a vital instrument in President Barack Obama’s executive actions that he announced in November, 2014. The goal of this project was to improve, update, and clarify the H-4 visa program with the hope to grow the US economy and eventually create more jobs. The President and DHS also hope that this change will reduce economic burdens and personal stresses that H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience by helping them more easily integrate into the American society. Allowing H-4 dependent spouses to work will also result in reducing possible discouragements that may lead H-1B nonimmigrants to forsake their efforts to remain in the US, which can cause disruptions in the businesses that employ them.
Moreover, motivating the H-1B nonimmigrants to stay in the US by allowing their spouses to work, will help support the economy because the contributions made by these men and women are greatly appreciated in the entrepreneurial, science, and many other worlds. By this logic, more jobs will be created and the economy will therefore have an opportunity for greater growth. Finally, this rule will align the US with other countries that compete to attract comparable highly skilled worked.
It is important to note that this does not apply to all H-4 spouses. It will only apply in certain cases where the H-1B visa holder is well on the way toward applying for a green card. Specifically, it will only apply to H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who either have an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) approved on their behalf, or have been granted an H-1B extension based on the AC21 regulations, which would mean that they have been an H-1B for at least six years and have a green-card case started.
To become eligible to work in the US as an H-4, there are many requirements before the application can be made. Some of these requirements include filing the Form 1-765, which is the Application for Employment Authorization; providing supporting evidence; covering the required costs; and receiving the Form I-766; which is the Employment Authorization Document.
USCIS will allow applications to start being accepted on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the various forms and the H-4 dependent spouse obtains the Employment Authorization Document, he or she may begin to work in the US.
It is estimated that there are as many as 179,600 H-4 dependent spouses who are eligible to apply for employment eligibility in the first year and then 55,000 annually in the following years to come. It is important to note that USCIS will not accept any applications before the effective date (May 26, 2015).
The firm of Wildes & Weinberg, P.C., would like to congratulate anyone who may be eligible under this new rule. It will hopefully serve to be a successful step in the progression of our Immigration system here in the US. We look forward to helping those who may have questions, concerns, or comments about this new regulation.
With offices in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, Wildes & Weinberg, P.C., perhaps the United States’ premier law firm concentrating in the immigration and nationality field grew out of the practice of Leon Wildes, Esq., a distinguished immigration practitioner in New York City. Its original clientele consisted of individuals, rather than corporations, who had been placed in deportation or exclusion proceedings, lost their American citizenship, or were otherwise in jeopardy. Founded in 1960, the practice expanded steadily as word of its outstanding achievements in individual cases spread in the international community, attracting clients from a broad range of nations.
As the US, itself a nation of immigrants, became a magnet to industrious prospective immigrants from nations throughout the world, the practice expanded to include representation of American firms anxious to attract persons with needed skills. The firm participated in efforts to liberalize the immigration laws to permit even broader US immigration and was sought out by major banks and industrial concerns to represent them in their efforts to secure needed personnel from abroad.
Today, the firm, which consists of 13 attorneys, all experts in the field of immigration and nationality law, has a staff of 30 individuals handling the work of a distinguished and growing clientele, and is known for its prompt and efficient service. Despite its steady growth over the past 50 years, the hallmark of this law practice remains the individualized attention to its clients’ problems.
If you have questions about the new H-4 employment authorization rules, please contact Managing Partner Michael Wildes at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist.
By Michael J. Wildes