USCIS Proposes Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

May 13th, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a rule and invited comments from the public regarding providing employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers.  According to DHS: “The extension would be limited to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment. This population will include those H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants if the H-1B nonimmigrants are either the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or who have been granted an extension of their authorized period of admission in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty- first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act.”   Federal Register Volume 79, Number 91 (Monday, May 12, 2014).

I highly recommend that people provide copious comments favoring the change. The comments must be received on or before July 11, 2014.  You may submit comments, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS- 2010-0017, by any one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the Web site instructions for submitting comments.

 

Email: You may submit comments directly to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by email at uscisfrcomment@dhs.gov. Include DHS docket number USCIS-2010-0017 in the subject line of the message.

 

Mail: Laura Dawkins, Chief Regulatory Coordinator, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529. To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0017 on your correspondence. This mailing address may also be used for paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions.

 

Hand Delivery/Courier: Laura Dawkins, Chief Regulatory Coordinator, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529; Telephone (202) 272-8377.

This is certainly a welcome development and would significantly improve the US’s ability to attract and retain valuable educated professionals.  Currently, the spouse of an H-1B may not work but must seek his or her own visa status that would provide for such employment, including obtaining separate H-1B, or J-1 exchange visitor, F-1 student (through curricular or optional practical training), O-1 extraordinary ability, L-1 intracompany transferee or E-2 investor status.