Work with Pending H4 EAD with USCIS Receipt Notice Info

Can I work on H4 EAD Receipt, Renewal Pending? 180 Days Extension?

In H4 Visa by KumarUpdated : 36 Comments

As most of you know, with the New I539 form for H4 with Biometrics, there is a huge delay in the H4 processing times, even if you were to file H4 concurrently with H1B in premium processing. In the past, USCIS was adjudicating the H4 and H4 EADs in premium processing as a courtesy, but this has changed with the new Biometrics process for H4. As many are waiting for H4 and H4 EAD approvals after Biometrics, some are cutting close to the expiry of their current H4 EAD card and not sure, if they can continue to work with H4 EAD in processing and pending with USCIS.  In this article, we will look at the official guidance from USCIS for H4 EAD category, if they can work or not and also, if the 180-day automatic extension applies to H4 EAD holders.

What category of eligibility does H4 EAD Fall under ?

When you apply for H4 EAD, either new or renewal, you fill out the I-765 form and for Question 27 in part 2, for eligibility category you would have entered  (c)(26) like below. Also, if you notice your H4 EAD physical card that you get after the approval, you would also see the category as C26 as you can see below screenshot. This category is the most important thing that determines your ability to work with pending H4 EAD receipt or 180 days automatic extension.

C26 filling out for question 27 answer on H4 EAD
H4 EAD Card Sample C26 Category

USCIS Rule for 180 days automatic Extension for EAD – Does H4 EAD Fall under it ?

USCIS from Jan 2017, implemented automatic EAD extension for certain categories of EAD applications filed using I-765 form. This 180 days automatic extension of EAD is applicable, only if it meets both of the below two conditions.

  • Properly filed the EAD renewal before the expiry of the current EAD Card
  • The applicant EAD category is listed under a category that is eligible for 180 days extension as listed on USCIS website.
    • Here is the EAD Category Codes list from USCIS website: A03, A05, A07, A08, A10, C08, C09, C10, C16, C20, C22, C24, C31, and A12 or C19.  
    • Also, the Category Code on your current valid EAD Card matches with the “Class Requested” EAD receipt notice.   See below screenshot.
H4 EAD Category Code on Receipt Notice from Sample Notice

One key thing to note is that, Category C26, which is for EAD application filed by H4 Spouses, is not included in the eligible list for 180 days automatic extension. So, H4 EADs are not eligible for 180 Days automatic Extension. 

Official USCIS Reference that says H4 EAD Category is not in automatic 180 days extension category ?

You can see below screenshots that we captured from USCIS website, that clearly outlines the rule of 180 days automatic extension and the listed categories. You can also check Official 180 Day EAD Extension Rule

Automatic Extension of EADs USCIS Rule of 180 Days Info
I-765 Categories Eligible for 180 Days Automatic Extension

Also, USCIS has published a fact sheet that confirms that same. You can see the below screenshot on the same. You can check document at Fact Sheet on EADs 180 Days automatic Extension

C26 Category Code not in the Fact Sheet for 180 days extension

Also, USCIS has published guidance to employers in their employee handbook on what EAD categories are eligible and what they need to ask their employees and use for I-9 Compliance, for individuals with Pending EAD applications with USCIS.  You can see the below screenshot on the same. You can check Employers Handbook on EADs for I-9

EAD Eligible Categories for USCIS i-9 Verification

Confusion with  H4 EAD Application Receipt Notice Generic Message on 180 Days Extension

After you apply for H4 EAD, you would get a receipt notice from USCIS that will read something that is slightly confusing and misleading.  This is where many are confused.  Below is the important text and screenshot of H4 EAD receipt notice, where we have highlighted the relevant text.

“…Your EAD renewal is under a category that is eligible for an automatic 180-day extension ( see for a list of categories);….

You do not receive your renewal EAD before your current EAD expires

Then this Notice of Action automatically extends the validity of your EAD for up to 180 days from the expiration date printed on the face of the card.

You may present this Notice of Action with your expired EAD to your employer for employment eligibility verification ( Form I-9) purposes…

Below is the screenshot,

H4 EAD Receipt Notice - C26 Eligibilgy Criteria for 180 days automatic extension

The text in the H4 EAD receipt notice reads that you get 180 days automatic extension, as you filed under a category that is eligible.  But, the reality is C26 category does not qualify for automatic extension. You can check above links and screenshots we have already given. The text printed on the H4 EAD Receipt Notice is generic message that appears on I-797C Receipt Notice for everyone who uses I-765 form to file EAD and NOT customized for H4 EAD holders category. So, do NOT get mislead by the message that you are eligible. If you check closely, it asks to check USCIS website at to get the list of categories. So, do not be confused.   

What are the consequences of working on H4 without proper EAD Card that is valid ?

Working without proper authorization is considered violation of your US Visa status ( read US Visa vs. Status ). You should NEVER engage in any activity that violates your status in US. It is as same as working illegally without authorization and you may face issues in future. Some employers may not be aware of these subtle rules and may ask you to work without updating I-9, but it is your visa and your status. You will be the one, who will face consequences in the future. It is your responsibility to follow rules to be in proper status.

Common H4 EAD Working FAQs with Pending Receipt

Can I work on H4 EAD Receipt Notice ?

No, as mentioned in article, there is no 180 days automatic extension and you cannot work with the receipt notice of H4 EAD

Can I work, if I see online status of H4 EAD as approved without New Card in hand ?

No, you need the new approved physical EAD card of H4 to work. It is required for I-9 compliance by the employer.

Do I get 180 days automatic extension with H4 EAD ?

No, C26 category of H4 EAD is not eligible for 180 days automatic extension and you cannot work when the application is pending. See above official reference in article.

Can I work with Pending H4 EAD application with USCIS

No, as mentioned above, the H4 EAD category of C26 does not fall under 180 days automatic extension to work when the application is pending.

My Employer said, it is Ok to work with H4 EAD Pending, Can I ?

No, you should not work, even if your employer is trying to support you or say it is fine. It will be your H4 Visa Status that is at risk and you are the one who will be violating status by working on H4 EAD without proper authorization.

What are my options to work with H4 EAD pending with USCIS ?

There are no options to work. You cannot work with pending H4 EAD application. Any workarounds or shortcuts suggested by others are all illegal and you should not engage in anything as such on H4, you will be violating your status in US.

What was your experience with Employers on H4 EAD Expiration ?  Share your thoughts.


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Comments ( 36 )

    1. LifeIsBeautiful!

      This happened with my wife couple of years ago but our lawyers suggested that as long as you have physical EAD card in hand, you are eligible to work. It is a glitch at the end of USCIS’s system when H4 is delayed even after H4 EAD’s arrival. But, in general terms as per our lawyer, H4 EAD gets approved only when H4 is approved. So you should be fine. Congratulations and Good luck! We are still waiting for my wife’s H4 EAD renewal and hope it comes soon so that she can join back to her work.

  1. Jeal Desai

    Hi Kumar

    Is it advisable after my H1B gets approved I can send my wife to India and get H4 stamping and then file her H4 EAD once she is back in USA? Will her H4 EAD application gets processed faster as she already have H4 stamped?

    please advise

    1. administrator

      Yes, that’s better idea, if you can. Well, maybe slightly better, but hard to say…You can check USCIS website for the current processing times.

  2. sunitha

    Hello, Thanks a lot for this article. Can we support the company’s work without pay while the EAD application is pending? The company is in a critical phase in the project and I am a key resource.

    1. administrator

      I understand. Legally, you cannot be employed in US, even without pay. The moment you work, your employer has to maintain your I-9 and be compliant.
      You should never engage in anything that violates your status.

  3. Sam

    Hi ,

    I have a H1B and H4 valid till feb 2020. I am planning to file extension.

    My spouse H4 EAD is valid till Aug, 2020.

    Can I file H4 EAD extension with H1B and H4 extension applications?

    Thanks & Regards,

  4. PaulV

    Hi, Is there any justification as to why H4 EAD, the C-26 category, is not eligible for the 180 day extension, while others are? I am sure that USCIS always has a definitive purpose for every thing to do 😉

      1. Sam

        Thanks Kumar..

        But in my case, my spouse H4 EAD has six months more validity than H4.

        H4 Validity : 02/2020
        H4 EAD Validity : 08/2020

        I am planning to file H1B and H4 extension in september 2019.

        My concern is, whether I should file for H4 EAD extension along with my H1B and H4 right away OR wait till march and only file 180 days before the expiry of current EAD document?

        If we will apply H4 EAD now what are the complications expected? Can USCIS will reject current H4 EAD or I can we get RFE for new application.

        Please suggest before taking any step.

        I am referring below link for them


        1. administrator

          No, you can apply now as part of your H1B extension, that is pretty normal. It talks about I-129 form that you cannot apply before 180 days, that’s it. It is a general practice to apply for H4 and H4 EAD along with H1B extensions, so nothing to worry, go for it.

          1. Sam

            Thanks Kumar for your inputs.

            Please refer below URL:


            “You will not be authorized to work until USCIS approves your Form I-765. Once your employment authorization is approved, the expiration date on your EAD should be the same date as the expiration date on your most recent Form I-94 indicating your H-4 nonimmigrant status. You are only authorized to work through the expiration date on your EAD. If you still will be eligible for work authorization after that date, you should file for a renewal EAD by submitting another Form I-765. You cannot file for a renewal EAD more than 180 days before your original EAD expires”.

            That’s why I am little worried. I have few scenarios in my mind regarding H4 EAD on which I want some more clarity.

            They are as follows—–

            A) What can be the maximum consequences/disadvantages/implications if we apply H4 EAD extension along with my H1B and H4 extensions?

            B) Can USCIS reject the H4 EAD and take application fees OR send RFE OR put our H4 EAD case on hold? If they put it on hold, when they will resume?

            C)If they reject supposedly, then will there be any impact on our current H4 EAD approval ? Can they revoke or change the expiry date of current EAD?

            E) If USCIS cancel/reject(not process) our new H4 EAD application for extension if we apply now, and if they do, will I be able to re-apply that again on the desired time, that is before 180 days of expiration of my current EAD.

            F) What can be future consequences on my H4 EAD extensions we apply for ?

            Thanks & Regards,

          2. administrator

            As I said, it is absolutely fine to apply, many apply H4 and EAD together when they file for H1B extension, no issues at all.
            Please discuss with your H1B attorney, if you need confirmation.

  5. lallitha S Radhakrishnan


    I need to apply for H4 EAD Extension since my H4 EAD is getting expired in Nov 2019. My Husband has filed an extension for his H1B and my H4.He got the receipt in March.
    1. Can I apply for my H4 EAD Extension with his receipt
    2. How long will it take to get the receipt. Can I work with my H4 EAD Receipt?
    3. When can I expect the EAD Card and Validity will be based on My Husband H1B Period
    4.USCIS will process my Extension only after My Husband H1B Extension got approved.

    Will be really helpful if someone answers my above questions.

  6. MS81516

    I applied H1B ext and H4 extension in Dec 2018 in regular processing and got approved in March 2019. Meanwhile, while waiting on the extension approval, I applied my wife’s H4 EAD renewal (going to expire on March 2019) based on H1B & H4 receipts in Feb 2019. I got the H4 EAD receipt dated March 09, 2019. Since I got my H1B & H4 approval in March 2019, I am waiting on getting EAD approved. Not sure if this is usual these days to wait almost 4 months. I have couple of friends who applied after me at same location and got it approved within 3 months.

    One thing I notice is that, when I check my case at USCIS site, I don’t see my case updated even though I got my approvals in March. Do I need to provide approval copy for H4 in order to process EAD for my wife or does USCIS will get it from their internal records? I am asking because, it doesn’t seem to me that the records got updated as I can’t see my updated status online.

    Appreciate any help !!

    1. administrator

      Yes, usually they look for H4 approval and validity to issue EAD. Try calling USCIS or send a service request.

  7. Pankaj

    My wife’s H4 is pending since December 2018. It was filed along with H1 transfer in California center, which was later on sent to Vermont center in February (1st). H1 got approved in premium on May 29th after RFE, however no update on H4 yet though.
    Can I apply for her H4 EAD with pending H4 I539? I am planning to send receipt notice, and transfer notice along with the application. Please suggest.

  8. Mask

    Hi Kumar,
    Can my Wife work while H4 EAD is in process? Her EAD will expire in august 2019.She got H4 Approved and received the document.
    or do we have to wait until she get the EAD card ?

    1. administrator

      She can work until the expiry date, after that cannot. Read the above article again, all your questions are answered.

    1. Cake

      At least u will be able to work on automatic EAD extension.. u need to call your DMV to find out about driver’s license on just receipt notice.

    2. administrator

      Well, at least for the eligible ones, it gives an option to work….something is better than nothing…can pay for Uber and go to work…Just see the brighter side of it 🙂

    1. administrator

      USCIS website update is not official. As you know there are many times, you see wrong status as well. So, you need to have the EAD card in hand to work. This is for I-9 compliance, employer cannot accept what you see on the USCIS website as official documents

      1. Cake

        My status got approved on June 7th. I received H4 extension and H4 EAD USCIS approval courtesy notice last week. But the lawyer has not received any documents until now. Why is there a delay? Is this normal?

          1. Anonymous

            @Cake was your H4 applied along with your spouses h1b in premium or was it a regular processing? Please let me know as I applied on March 28th. No update after biometrics.

          2. Anonymous

            @Cake was your H4 applied in premium along with h1b or was it in regular processing and which service center?

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