Recently the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service announced that beginning May 22, 2015, the derivative spouses of certain H-1B non-immigrants will be eligible for work authorization.
Historically, the spouses of H-1B workers, i.e., H-4 nonimmigrants, were not allowed to obtain employment. They were essentially told, “You can come to the United States with your spouse, but you won’t be able to work. You can go to school, or you can do something else consistent with H-4 status, but you can’t work.” They have now loosened those strings a little bit.
Effective April 26, 2015, the spouses of H-1B employees who are the principal beneficiaries of an approved I-140 immigrant petition or who have been granted more than 6 years of H-1B status based on an approved I-140 Petition, may be eligible now for work authorization.
The spouses of E-1 and E-2 Visa holders are, and have been for quite some time, eligible for work authorization, like H-4 spouses, but there is a distinction: For H-4 spouses to get work authorization requires that the H-1B principal have applied for a green card and there is no such requirement for E-1 or E-2 spouses.
Immediately upon coming to the U.S. with E-1 or E-2 status, the derivative spouse is eligible to apply for an employment authorization document, what is called an “EAD”.
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