DHS starts accepting work permit applications for H4 visa holders

H4 H1 L1 P1 Visa United States of America Immigration Update

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday started accepting the applications for H-4 visas.

Issuing employment authorisation card (EAD) to certain category of spouses of H-1B visas is one of the legislative measures taken by President Barack Obama to fix the immigration system of the country.

As a result, about 1,80,000 would be eligible to work in the US.

According to the DHS, it will issue EAD within 90 days of receiving the application.

Under existing regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorisation to dependents (also known as H—4 nonimmigrants) of H—1B nonimmigrant workers.

The new rules allow H—4 dependent spouses of certain H—1B nonimmigrant workers to request employment authorisation, as long as the H—1B worker has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment.


H4 Visa Holders EAD Eligibility 2014 Rules

Firstly, NOT all H4 visa holders are eligible for the Employment Authorization Document ( EAD).  H4 Visa holders have to fall under one of the below category to be eligible for EAD.

  • Have an approved I-140.    or ( The I-140 refers to the Immigrant Petition for Alien work to get permanent residence – aka Green Card – in United states  )
  • Have been granted extension to authorized stay beyond 6 years under AC21 Act. ( The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21)  allows H1B visa holders seeking lawful permanent residence ( Green Card) to work and stay in United States beyond the six year limit, if their PERM/Green Card Processing is pending )

The above rule is Final and has been passed. USCIS will accept applications for H4 visa EAD from May 26, 2015


Also, some stats on the impact about the H4 Visa Holders EAD Eligibility 2014 Rule.

  • This new proposed rule will enable about 97,000 H4 visa holders to be immediately eligible for employment authorization ( EAD)
  • Also, about 30,000 H4 visa holders would be eligible annually going forward to avail this EAD facility.

The complete details of the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register soon. The above information is on a high level and does not list all the details.

Why DHS is giving EAD for H4 Visa holders  ?

DHS explains in the federal register that the justification to allow H4 visa holders is to reduce the negative economic effects that H1B households face with one income during the lengthy waiting time of adjustment of status to legal permanent residence. Also, this rule will help H1B holders not to quit and leave their Green Card/ Permanent residence application processing because their H4 spouse cannot work.  Also, it explains that the impact of this rule would only have a negligible increase in domestic work force, which should not raise any eyebrows that jobs are reduced for locals.

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