Yesterday, USCIS announced new filing guidance for some H-4 dependent spouses desiring employment authorization. Per USCIS, the guidance is only applicable to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders:
H-4 dependent spouses may apply for employment authorization if the H-1B nonimmigrant:
- Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
- Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21). AC21 permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.
The new guidance explains in detail who is eligible to apply, how to apply, what documents to provide to support the application, what to do if your supporting documents require translation, and where/how to file. USCIS also posted a useful FAQ concerning these new H-4 employment authorization rules.
Three useful tips to keep in mind if you are considering applying pro se. First, remember that USCIS will not accept your Form I-765 until May 26, 2015. Any premature filings will be rejected and returned to the applicant, along with the filing fee. Second, it is very important that you do not work prior to receiving approval to do so under the new rules. There are very negative, long-reaching consequences to working unlawfully. Third, if you get stuck, get the right help. USCIS explicitly warns applicants in its guide against paying unauthorized persons who claim they can file an Employment Authorization Document on your behalf. Check out USCIS’s list of common scams for more information. Of course, if you do get stuck, feel free to contact our firm and we’d be happy to assist you.