While many immigration practitioners wait anxiously for a resolution to the judicial challenges faced by DAPA and expanded DACA, others let out a sigh of relief at the announcement made today by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez. Effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend employment authorization eligibility to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who (i) are seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence status and are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or (ii) have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. This amendment to the regulations, part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, is expected to result in about 179,000 individuals being eligible for employment authorization this year alone.
Moreover, under the amended regulations, eligible H-4 dependent spouses will be required to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the $380 filing fee. If approved, the H-4 dependent spouse will receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.
USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Any applications received prior to May 26, 2015 will be rejected.