Visa Crunch

H1-B Visa Holder: Relief For Spouse As United States Will Grant Automatic Work Permit To Them

The Biden administration has decided to issue automatic work authorization licenses to spouses of H-1B visa holders, a move that will help thousands of Indian-American women.

The spouses of H-1B visa holders are now eligible for automatic work authorization in the United States. It should be emphasized that the majority of H1-B visa holders in America are Indian IT experts. The Joe Biden government is making the hiring process easier for Indian-American women by making this immigration-friendly step. A US court settled a class-action lawsuit, instructing the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to permit spouses of L-1 and H1-B visa holders up to 180 days of automatic extension on work authorization.

“Although this is a giant achievement, the parties’ agreement will further result in a massive change in position for the USCIS, which now recognizes that L-2 spouses enjoy automatic work authorization incident to status, meaning these spouses of executive and managers will no longer have to apply for employment authorization prior to working in the United States,” American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said.

The L-1 visa is only valid for a limited duration. The L-2 visa is used to enter the United States by an eligible L-1 visa holder’s dependent spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. This visa is a non-immigrant visa that is only effective for the period of the L-1 visa of the spouse.

The L-1 spouses, on the other hand, will receive the extension without having to apply for it, although, the H-4 visa holders will still have to apply for the extension after their employment authorization expires. The USCIS issues an H-4 visa to blood relatives (spouse and children under the age of 21) of H-1B visa holders.

The H-4 visa is granted to persons who are in the process of obtaining employment-based lawful permanent residence status in the United States. More than 90% of H-4 candidates are Indian women. A group of mostly Indian nationals and lawyers launched a class-action lawsuit this year challenging the immigration rules that barred H-4 and L-2, visa holders, from employment in the United States until they obtained a work permit. Moreover, as ordered by the court, L-2 visa holders will be granted an automatic 180-day extension of their work authorization) or an I-94 expiration date, whichever is shorter).

Furthermore, H-4 visa holders will automatically receive renewals of their H-4 work authorization document (EAD) until the expiration of their I-94s or 180 days from the expiration of the previous EAD, whichever comes first.

According to an immigration support group, the latest change has not made the process of obtaining a work authorization permit easier for immigrants. They claim that candidates will have to spend time navigating the difficult procedure of getting H4 visas stamped for the 180-day automatic extension.

Almost 90,000 H-4 visa holders, the overwhelming majority of whom are Indian-American women, have been granted work authorization, to date.

“We are delighted to have reached this agreement, which includes relief for H-4 spouses, through our litigation efforts with Wasden Banias and Steven Brown. It is gratifying that the administration saw that settling the litigation for non-immigrant spouses was something that should be done, and done quickly,” said Jesse Bless, AILA, Director of Federal Litigation.

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