By: Min Kim
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon start issuing notices to certain E and L spouses that will be sufficient evidence of employment authorization when combined with an unexpired Form I-94.
USCIS announced it would consider E and L spouses to have employment authorization based on their valid E or L status. On November 12, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the Class of Admission (COA) codes to include different codes for E and L spouses and children.
Beginning on January 30, 2022, USCIS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) used the new COA codes when issuing Form I-94s to certain E and L spouses, including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. Therefore, a valid I-94 with one of the new codes was satisfactory as evidence of employment authorization.
E or L Spouses with an Unexpired Form I-94
Despite this change in issuing I-94s and automatically supplying work authorization to E and L spouses with the new annotated I-94s, the new policy did not directly benefit E or L spouses who did not already have the new I-94 versions which indicate E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, or L-2S status. Spouses that only had earlier versions of their I-94s could not prove that they were work authorized incident to their nonimmigrant visa status.
Now USCIS has announced that these spouses will soon receive notices that can be used to prove their ability to work in the US without the need for an employment authorization document (EAD) card. Specifically, USCIS will start issuing verifying notices to qualifying E or L spouses over the age of 21 who have an I-94 prior to January 30, 2022. USCIS will start issuing these notices around April 1, 2022. These notices, combined with the corresponding unexpired I-94, will be sufficient evidence of employment authorization for E or L spouses whose I-94s do not contain the new annotated E-1S, E-2S, E-3S or L-2S language.
E or L spouses under the age of 21, or E or L spouses over the age of 21 who have not received their notice can request one by emailing E-L-married-U21@uscis.dhs.gov.
Notices will only be sent if the spouse is qualified based on a USCIS approved Form I-539. If a spouse was issued Form I-94 by CBP, they should visit the CBP website for more information.
For assistance requesting a notice or for case-specific questions, please contact your trusted Chugh, LLP immigration professional.