DHS Settlement Agreement to Change Employment Authorization Process for H-4 and L-2 Spouses

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By: Min Kim and Lihua Tan

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reached a settlement agreement which changes how United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates work authorization for nonimmigrant H4 and L-2 spouses.

H-4 spouses on valid H-4 status will receive automatic employment authorization extensions while their employment authorization renewal application is pending. Spouses on L-2 status will no longer need to apply for employment authorization before working in the United States.

For h-4 visa holders

Within 120 days of the settlement agreement’s effective date, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will revise I-765 EAD receipt notices issued to individuals on valid H-4 visa status which detail they are eligible for an employment authorization document (EAD) auto-extension. This auto-extension will be based on the validity period listed on Form I-94, the expired EAD, and Form I-797C receipt notice for any individual with a timely filed I-765 EAD renewal.

for l-2 visa holders

USCIS is expected to release guidance amending policy for L-2 spouses. L-2 spouses have automatic work authorization incident to status, and they no longer need to apply for employment authorization. USCIS will coordinate with US Customs and Border Protection to change Form I-94 within 120 days of the settlement agreement’s effective date to indicate the bearer is an L-2 spouse so that the form can be used as a List C document for Form I-9 verification purposes.


For any concerns, case-specific questions, or application assistance contact your trusted Chugh, LLP immigration specialist.


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