Eligible H-4 dependent spouses may now apply for employment authorization (EAD/work permit) under the H-4 rule (explained in an earlier blog post). On February 24, 2015, USCIS announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would begin accepting applications for employment authorization from certain H-4 spouses on May 26, 2015.
Starting today, you may apply for employment authorization under this rule if your H-1B spouse has:
(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, available here. The application can be filed with another petition (e.g. extension/change of status), or separately. The H-4 spouse can start working when they receive their Employment Authorization Document, which will be valid for the remainder of the H-4 status - up to three years. The EAD allows for open market employment, in any field.
For more information on applying for employment authorization under the H-4 rule, please visit the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses Web page and the USCIS list of Frequently Asked Questions.
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.