USCIS Updates E and L Spousal Employment Authorization Guidelines
As previously reported, pursuant to a policy announced on November 12, 2022, USCIS will consider E and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses to be employment authorized incidental to their status. On January 30, 2022, USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began issuing Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Records with new class of admission codes reflecting an “S” for the dependent E or L spouse. An unexpired Form I-94 issued with an E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, or L-2S classification code is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization for spouses under List C of Form I-9.
On March 18, 2022, USCIS went one step further to provide relief for E and L spouses who were issued a Form I-94 by USCIS prior to the January 30, 2022 implementation of the new classification codes. Starting April 1, 2022, USCIS will begin mailing notices to E and L spouses who were issued a Form I-94 by USCIS without an “S” annotated I-94. This notice, together with an unexpired Form I-94 reflecting E-1, E-2, E-3, E-3D, E-3R, or L-2 nonimmigrant status, will serve as evidence of employment authorization. Note, however, that USCIS will only send such notices to individuals who were issued an I-94 on a Form I-797 approval notice from USCIS pursuant to filing an I-539 application to change or extend nonimmigrant status. USCIS will not send notices to spouses who were issued a Form I-94 by CBP at a port of entry into the U.S. Eligible spouses who have not received a USCIS notice by April 30 may email E-L-married-U21@uscis.dhs.gov to request a notice.
Work Authorization for H-4 Spouses
As a reminder, this benefit is only available for E and L spouses. Nonimmigrant H-4 spouses are required to have a valid I-94 document showing H-4 status and an EAD for employment. According to the new policy, H-4 spouses may receive an automatic extension of work authorization when they file to renew their EAD. To do so, the H-4 spouse must file to renew prior to the EAD expiration date and must have unexpired I-94 showing valid H-4 status.
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