Expanded Employment Eligibility for H-4 Spouses of H-1B Workers Seeking Lawful Permanent Residence

USCIS recently published a final rule that, effective May 26, 2015, will extend employment eligibility for certain spouses of H-1B workers. The new rule aims to reduce the disincentives for H-1B nonimmigrants to pursue lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Under the current rule, H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers are ineligible to apply for employment authorization. By extending employment eligibility to H-4 dependent spouses, USCIS hopes to decrease the economic burdens H-1B nonimmigrants and their families experience during the transition to LPR status—particularly considering the wait times. USCIS hopes that the rule will encourage more highly skilled H-1B workers to pursue LPR Status. The Department estimates that nearly 180,000 H-4 dependent spouses will be eligible to apply for employment authorization during the first year.

Notably, this expanded employment eligibility only extends to H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant who are seeking LPR status. Additionally, the H-1B nonimmigrant spouse must be the beneficiary of either an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or must have received H-1B status under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000.

For the full version of the final rule, click here.