Employment Authorization for H-4 Visa Holders Heading Towards Approval

Employment Authorization for H-4 Visa Holders Heading Towards Approval

Employment Authorization for H-4 Visa Holders Heading Towards Approval

Employment Authorization for H-4 Visa Holders Heading Towards Approval

In early February 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) completed the last step of preparing the final rules for providing employment authorization to certain H-4 visa holders. USCIS submitted the final rules to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which will review the final rules during the next 30 to 60 days. Once the OMB review process is completed, the OMB will submit the final rules to the Federal Register for publication. Following a 60-day period for public comment, if all goes smoothly, the new rules for employment authorization for certain H-4 visa holders should go into effect later this year.

Currently, H-4 visa holders are not authorized to work in the U.S. Typically, H-4 visa holders are dependents of H-1B nonimmigrant visa holders. Under the current rules, many families who come to the U.S. under the H-1B visa program must rely on the single income generated by the H-1B visa holder. This can have negative economic implications for such families.

With the new H-4 employment authorization rules, those eligible to apply for employment authorization will be H-4 dependents of H-1B visa holders who:

· Have an approved Form I-140; or

· Have been granted an extension of stay beyond the six-year H-1B visa limit under AC21 (American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000) based on a pending PERM Labor Certification application or a Form I-140 application that has been pending adjudication for more than 365 days.

The proposed rules will limit employment authorization only to those H-4 visa holders who intend to stay in the U.S. permanently as legal permanent residents. However, if the rules go into effect, they will provide some relief to approximately 97,000 eligible H-4 visa holders. Going forward, approximately 30,000 H-4 visa holders would become eligible for employment authorization each year.