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uscis announces work authorization updates for dependent spouses of e, h-4, and l visa holders

Spouses of H-1B, L-1, and possibly E-1/E-2/E-3 workers or investors will have an easier time maintaining work authorization pursuant to a litigation settlement that has been reached with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Under the new guidance, spouses in L-2 status will be able to accept employment upon entry to the US. Similarly, those in H-4 status will also benefit from a 180-day automatic extension of their work authorization when they timely file for an extension, up to the date of their I-94 expiration.

For individuals who are in in E, H-4, or L dependent spouse status, if they have timely filed an I-765 (EAD) application, they will qualify for an extension of employment authorization until the earlier of the following: approval and/or denial of an EAD application, the expiration date of the current I94, or 180 days from expiration of the prior EAD. This announcement applies to those who plan on filing extensions AND individuals with EADs that have expired (but otherwise maintain lawful status).

In addition, in the coming months even more significant changes are expected. Those in E or L dependent spousal visa status will receive automatic authorization subsequent to visa status. When the change goes into effect, E and L dependent spouses will no longer need to file an I-765 and receive an EAD to accept employment in the US.

While this update is still pending and the Department of Homeland Security is in the process of formalizing the rollout, this is a major victory for dependent spouses of skilled workers and managers in a variety of industries.

If you believe that you or your spouse may be subject to this update, please call Wildes & Weinberg at (212) 753-3468 or email us at to set up a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

For Further Information On How We Can Help Your Firm Meet Its Employment Eligibility Verification Obligations, Please Contact Amy Wildes At