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Department of Homeland Security to Extend Eligibility for Work Permits to Visa H-1B Spouses

Yesterday the Director of USCIS announced that effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B non-immigrants, thereby allowing these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.

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The Director of USCIS, Leon Rodriguez, stated that “allowing the spouses of these visa holders to work legally in the United States helps the U.S. businesses to keep their highly skilled workers and provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families”. The logic for this policy change is that so many H-1B employees who are sponsored by their employers for permanent residency but the delays are so long due to the annual quota limitations.

This change will only apply to H-4 visa holders who are married to H-1B nonimmigrants. To qualify the H-IB employee must have a I-140 ( Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) approved by USCIS or have been granted H-1B status in the United States.

Eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form!-765 together with supporting evidence and pay a fee of $380 to obtain this authorization and receive Form I-766 from USCIS. Once the spouse receives the Employment Authorization Document he or she can begin to work in the United States. Applications should not be submitted before the effective date of May 26, 2015.

It is estimated that with this measure the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment could reach 179,600 in the first year and another 55,000 annually in the following years.

Always consult with an experienced immigration attorney who is a law graduate and certified in the United States of America by the Board of Immigration Appeals Federal Department of Justice.

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