U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will publish regulations tomorrow that will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who are seeking employment-based green cards.  This initiative is an important element of President Obama’s Immigration Executive Action.  The government will begin accepting applications from eligible H-4 spouses on May 26, 2015.

Eligible individuals include H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

  • Are the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Visa Petition (Form I-140); or
  • Have H-1B status beyond the six-year limit based on a labor certification application (or Immigrant Visa Petition) pending for more than 365 days.

This landmark change will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this regulation could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually thereafter.   Once the H-4 spouse receives an Employment Authorization Document, he or she may begin working in the United States.   Our office will contact eligible, current clients in advance of the effective date to begin the application process.