Employment Authorization Finally Coming for (Some) H-4s

February 24, 2015

Well before last year’s big announcement that President Obama would be taking executive action on immigration reform, the administration had already announced one big change: certain H-4 visa holders – all of whom are currently ineligible for any sort of work authorization – would be given the opportunity to apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). However, an implementation date was never set, and then additional changes were announced, and no further updates on the H-4 EAD situation had been published. Now, almost a year after the initial announcement, USCIS has finally published an implementation date for this important and overdue change: May 26, 2015.

As of that date, USCIS will begin accepting I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization from H-4 visa holders who meet the following criteria:

  • Must be the spouse of an H-1B (children will not be eligible)
  • The H-1B spouse must be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition OR have a “7th-year H-1B extension”*

There is still an expectation that the H-1B spouses of qualifying H-4 applicants will eventually be granted the right to apply for EADs as well, but for now the change only applies to H-4s.

*Aside from being the beneficiary of an approved I-140, an H-1B employee may otherwise extended their H-1B status past 6 years under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 if at least 365 days have elapsed since  the filing of either a PERM labor certification application or an I-140 immigrant visa petition.  This is commonly referred to as a “7th-year extension.”



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