The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows those with special work visas to bring their spouses and minor, unmarried children with them to the United States. This allowance helps to keep family units intact and makes work-based immigration more feasible for successful employees from other countries.
Dependent spouses typically receive an H-4 visa, which allows them to live in the country but does not authorize them to pursue a job. The established rules in the United States, therefore, often leaves the entire family dependent on the income of one individual, which can lead to significant hardship should that person lose their job. Thankfully, a federal court ruling earlier in 2023 helped clarify these rules and made certain spouses of H1B non-immigrant workers eligible for employment authorization documents (EADs). What is necessary to qualify for an EAD?
The H-1B visa holder must seek permanent residence
Under a rule established in 2015, those with H-4 visas are only eligible for an EAD when their spouse has begun the process of shifting from a non-immigrant worker to a lawful permanent resident. That process can be a lengthy one, and H-4 spouses can potentially seek an EAD during that transitional time. Typically, those with an H-4 visa need to show that their spouse has submitted an approved Form I-140 to the USCIS or that their H-1B visa was granted under specific rules within the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act.
They must submit Form I-765 to the USCIS
The H-4 spouses hoping to pursue employment in the United States will need to submit Form I-765 to the USCIS to obtain an EAD. Securing an EAD means someone won’t need to submit a Labor Condition Application or have a specific employer sponsor them for domestic employment.
Demonstrating one’s eligibility for an EAD and providing information to the USCIS about their family and professional history can help someone seek employment at any company that might hire them or even give them the option of working as a self-employed professional. With both spouses working, families will have more financial stability and stronger ties to the domestic communities where they live and work.