To benefit 179,600 in the first year; not all will get it though.
By Sujeet Rajan
WASHINGTON, DC: The long wait for many H4 visa holders seeking Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards to work legally in the United States is finally coming to an end: effective May 26, 2015, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin applications from qualified spouses of H-1B visa holders.
USCIS Director León Rodríguez made the important announcement today, ending months of speculation as to how long the H4 visa holders have to wait to get the EAD cards.
“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” Rodríguez said. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
Details are still coming in, and this news will be updated later today, but for now, it’s also likely that as many as 179,600 H4 visa holders may be eligible in the first year the cards will be issued, and subsequently as many as 55,000 annually.
Once the USCIS begin accepting the applications on May 26, 2015, the cards will be issued within 90 days, so in all likelihood those who qualify will be able to get it by August 26, 2015.
Not all H4 visa holders would be eligible for the EAD cards though: for now, it seems the USCIS will issue the cards to only those H4 visa holders who are the beneficiaries of an approved Immigration Petition for Immigrant Worker (Form 1-140), or those who are the spouses of H-1B visa holders who have got an extension of their authorized period of admission in the US, beyond the permitted six years that is.
Under the rule, eligible H4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.
The granting of EAD cards has come after three years when it was first proposed in February, 2012. It made little progress till April of last year when the White House issued the guidelines for the cards to be issued. And then came a period for public comments and official procedures. President Barack Obama also made it part of his Executive Action in November of last year. The USCIS finally submitted the final rule for the White House to approve it earlier this month, and which it did.
(This story was updated on February 24, 2015).