The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has finally approved draft regulations that would allow some spouses of H-1B workers to get work authorization. The regulations, which were first proposed in 2011, will allow these H-4 holders to apply for work authorization if their H-1B spouses have reached a certain point in the permanent residence (green card) process. The changes are an important part of president Obama's executive Action, discussed in this earlier blog post.
If the H-1B worker has either:
(a) an approved I-140 (petition for immigrant worker) or
(b) an extension of H-1B status past the initial 6-year limit
the H-4 spouse can apply for work authorization using Form I-765. They can start working when they receive their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that will be valid for the remainder of the H-4 status - up to three years.
USCIS will begin accepting EAD applications from H-4 spouses on May 26, 2015. The application is made on Form I-765. It can be filed alone, or with an application to change status (e.g. from L-2), or with some applications to extend H-4 status.
Advance copy of regulations
DHS Press Release.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a new warning against travel to certain parts of Algeria. The warning is reprinted below.
"The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Kabylie region and remote areas of southern and eastern Algeria. This replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated August 13, 2014, to update information on the current security situation in Algeria.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety. There is a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria, as noted in the Department of State's latest Worldwide Caution. Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks are still possible. The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur in the mountainous areas to the east of Algiers (Kabylie region and eastern wilayas) and in the expansive Saharan desert regions of the south and southeast. In September, the ISIL-affiliated Jund al-Khalifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) abducted and beheaded a French citizen, in the Kabylie region.
Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are also both active in Algeria and the region. In January 2013, an AQIM-linked organization “Those Who Sign in Blood”, led by Moktar Belmoktar, attacked a gas production facility near In Amenas, Algeria, near the Libyan border, holding foreign and Algerian workers hostage for four days with dozens killed, including three U.S. citizens. Mokhtar Belmokhtar and AQIM’s emir, Abdelmalik Droukdel, remain a threat and are at-large in the region. In addition, there have been kidnappings for ransom by terrorist groups operating in the trans-Sahara region. There are also extremists along the Algeria/Tunisia border in the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras, and Algerian and Tunisian security forces are conducting ongoing security operations there.
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel to the areas east of Algiers or in the Sahara. It is prudent to be cautious when traveling outside of Algiers and to ensure reliable and experienced transportation and logistical support. All employees of foreign companies or organizations based in Algeria who are not Algerian citizens must contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before engaging in any travel within the interior of the country; the Ministry will notify local police of the planned travel and the police may choose to assign escorts for that travel. Travelers should avoid mountainous regions located in less populated and less traveled areas where Algerian security services do not have a significant presence.
The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under security restrictions. The U.S. Department of State permits U.S. diplomats in Algeria to be accompanied only by adult family members, and children under age 12. Embassy travel restrictions limit and occasionally prevent the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country. Likewise, the Government of Algeria requires U.S. Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel outside the wilaya of Algiers and provides police escorts. Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization.
For additional information on travel to Algeria, see the U.S. Department of State’s Country-Specific Information for Algeria.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Algeria are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Algeria. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi in the El Biar district of Algiers, and can be reached by telephone at (213) 770 08 20 00. The consular section email is ACSAlgiers@state.gov."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been forced to delay accepting expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications after a federal district judge temporarily blocked both it and the Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. The expanded DACA program was to take effect on February 18, 2015. DAPA was slated to begin in May.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, in Texas, ruled late Monday night to block executive actions Obama took late last year to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Judge Hanen halted Obama's executive action, ruling that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for the White House to afford a longer notification and comment period before taking action. The ruling was issued in a lawsuit filed by 26 U.S. states seeking to bar the Obama Administration from certain executive actions on immigration.
The DHS immediately issued a statement confirming that they intended to appeal the decision, but would comply with it while an appeal is pending.
Secretary Johnson stated that
"...the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do."
US Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) has issued new Frequently Asked Questions regarding the expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. As explained in an earlier post (see here), the expanded program does the following:
USCIS has also published the new Form 821D and a preview of the instructions for the form here.
USCIS will accept requests for expanded DACA starting on February 18, 2015. Please contact this firm if you have any questions about DACA.
Form 821D instructions
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.