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DHS News : Certain H4 Visa Holder EAD Eligibility Criteria – 2014 Rule

[Updated : May 20th , 2015 – updated info ]

There has been quite a bit of buzz around this on and off for the past couple years or more allowing H4 Visa holders to work in United States.  There were rules proposed and tracked in the federal register regarding this for some time…Earlier in 2014 , Whitehouse announced regarding employment opportunities for certain H4 visa holders as they published a set of measures to strengthen en entrepreneurship in US, but no details were mentioned  at that time.  Today, Department of Homeland Security ( DHS) announced an official press release outlining some details on H4 Visa holder Employment details. Below is the summary of the press release.

H4 Visa Holders EAD Eligibility 2014 Rules

Firstly, NOT all H4 visa holders are eligible for the Employment Authorization Document ( EAD).  H4 Visa holders have to fall under one of the below category to be eligible for EAD.

  • Have an approved I-140.    or ( The I-140 refers to the Immigrant Petition for Alien work to get permanent residence – aka Green Card – in United states  )
  • Have been granted extension to authorized stay beyond 6 years under AC21 Act. ( The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21)  allows H1B visa holders seeking lawful permanent residence ( Green Card) to work and stay in United States beyond the six year limit, if their PERM/Green Card Processing is pending )

The above rule is Final and has been passed. USCIS will accept applications for H4 visa EAD from May 26, 2015

Also, some stats on the impact about the rule.

  • This new proposed rule will enable about 97,000 H4 visa holders to be immediately eligible for employment authorization ( EAD)
  • Also, about 30,000 H4 visa holders would be eligible annually going forward to avail this EAD facility.

The complete details of the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register soon. The above information is on a high level and does not list all the details.

Why DHS is giving EAD for H4 Visa holders  ?

DHS explains in the federal register that the justification to allow H4 visa holders is to reduce the negative economic effects that H1B households face with one income during the lengthy waiting time of adjustment of status to legal permanent residence. Also, this rule will help H1B holders not to quit and leave their Green Card/ Permanent residence application processing because their H4 spouse cannot work.  Also, it explains that the impact of this rule would only have a negligible increase in domestic work force, which should not raise any eyebrows that jobs are reduced for locals.

I think, it is a really good move by the US Govt. to help H4 Visa Holders situation in United States. I wish this rule could apply to all the H4 visa holders, without any restrictions. It could be very challenging for anyone to work after 6 years break…

What happens Next ? When will the H4 Visa EAD becomes a law ? 2014 Year end ?

Update : This rule has passed the final state and approved by DHS/ USCIS on Feb 24, 2015 and it become effective from May 26, 2015. Eligible H4 visa holders can apply for EAD from May 26, 2015.

The complete details will be published in Federal register. It will go through a 60 day period for public comments. Based on the comments, the rules can be modified.  The US Homeland Security officials said that they expect to issue final regulations by end of this year.  Again, this is still a proposed rule, so you need to wait until it becomes an official rule and law, stay tuned for updates.

Official USCIS Steps and Process Published:

Update : On May 20th, 2015 USCIS Updated and published the guidance and how to apply, including the most commonly asked FAQs.

Check out the key highlights and important points of the publication from USCIS at Summary of Guide to Apply EAD for H4 Holders, FAQs by USCIS 

If you are filing H4 EAD, we’ve built a tracker for your case to help you and everyone get overall insights from others. It is fully anonymous and has analytics. Please add your case to  H4 Visa EAD Tracker 

You may also read : DHS – H4 Visa EAD Rule passed – How to Apply for EAD ? Process 
What are your thoughts ?



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