Employment Authorization
for H-4 Spouses

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed regulation which would, for the first time, permit certain H-4 spouses of H-1B professionals to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).

Under the proposed regulation, the following classes of H-4 spouses would qualify for EADs:

1.     Where the H-1B spouse is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 EB visa petition; and

2.     Where the H-1B spouse has been granted a post-6th year H-1B extension under AC-21.

DHS estimates that 100,000 H-4 spouses would be eligible for EADs in the first year and that about 36,000 would be eligible in each subsequent year.

This is great news for the H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders who are currently in the green card process. Make sure your employer submits a PERM application, or an I-140 if a PERM application is not required, for the H-1B spouse during the first year of his/her employment.  This not only put the family on the track for permanent residence, but will accelerate the date when the H-4 can be employed.

The public comment period for the proposed H-4 regulation ends on July 11, 2014.