H-1b Visa Spouses Eligible for Employment Authorization

In an announcement today, the Department of Homeland Security will permit eligibility for employment authorization to H-4 dependent spouses.  These eligible H-4 dependent spouses are those married to an H-1b nonimmigrant seeking lawful permanent resident status through their employer.

H-1b visas holders are professionals in a specialty occupation.  In working with an employer, the employer may assist the H-1b individual with securing employment based lawful permanent resident status.  Currently, during this process, the H-1b holder’s spouse (i.e. H-4 dependent) is generally unable to work.  The new rule, however, changes some of these employment issues.

This new eligibility derives from the President’s November 2014 Executive Order on immigration.  It is expected this rule will make 179,000 more individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization this year and up to 55,000 more individuals eligible each subsequent year.

Applications to secure employment authorization under this new change will begin to be accepted on May 26, 2015.  Both individuals and employers looking to benefit from this change should consult with an experienced employment immigration attorney.


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