Lawsuit Settlement Results in USCIS Policy Benefiting H-4 and L-2 Spouses and Children
Effective January 25, 2023, USCIS resumed concurrent processing of I-539 applications to extend/change nonimmigrant status and I-765 applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 and L-2 spouses and minor children when the applications are filed with the principal H or L visa holder’s I-129 petition for nonimmigrant worker.
To benefit from the policy, the I-129, I-539, and I-765 applications must be properly filed at the same USCIS Service Center at the same time. If filed concurrently, all of the applications will be adjudicated together, regardless of whether filed under regular or premium processing service.
This reversal in USCIS policy is the result of a settlement agreement with the Department of Homeland Security in Edakunni v. Mayorkas, a class action law suit that challenged H-4 and L-2 adjudication delays. These delays left many L-2 and H-4 spouses and minor children in status limbo and spouses without work authorization, even after the principal visa holder’s petition was approved.
Prior to 2019, L-2 and H-4 dependent applications were generally adjudicated concurrently with the principal visa holder’s petition, but policies implemented by the Trump Administration, hostile to spousal work authorization, derailed adjudications, resulting in significant processing delays and loss of work authorization for many H-4 and L-2 spouses.
The commitment to once again bundle the adjudication of the applications essentially returns USCIS to its pre-2019 adjudication practice. The Edakunni settlement agreement is valid for two years.
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