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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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  1. Life is very short…. why do you worry about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow… Just be in Today… If you want to work… check today rule… do whatever it takes like apply for H1B. etc.. start working… This H4 EAD is in talk from more than 4 years… I am not sure ..it will become law… If it become law …change your status and enjoy H4 EAD… life is like bubble on water… when pops nobody know…Live and enjoy.. than just waiting….waiting waiting………which never ends

    • With you on life’s philosophy but there is lotter for H1 application. Out of every 4 applications only 1 is picked for H1.
      Hence importance of H4 EAD rule for 3 unlucky ones.

  2. I am planning for applying for H4 to H1 transfer for my Wife this year
    She is travlleing to Inidia this FEB 2015 and coming back on April 7th 2015
    Is there any issue of my wife is in india during Aprl 1st week and comming back on Apr 7th

    Please help me


  3. any update on the rule ?. the latest i see is below


      • This article is NOT speculation. DHS has been working on this rule for almost a year now and it should be finalized soon (within the next couple of months hopefully). Plus, the President has made a reference to “making it easier for highly skilled individuals living in America” in his immigration reform address last month.

        • Ams, what I mean by speculation is about the exact time of March 2015. I know that this has been going for a long time. Timing wise, it is not concrete. It can happen anytime in next couple of months, thats what everyone says. It could be earlier as well. We just have to wait and see. Hopefully early 🙂

        • on 12/12/2014 while providing budget from federal government to DHS & USCIS. House of representative & Senates had block money to president’s execution plan for immigration. So it is again stucking in middle of no where, so we need to stay tune about it.

          • The money blocked by the congress has no effect on H1B and H4 related activities. These activities are funded by the fees collected from the applicants not from the congressional budget money.
            Budget money affects the activities such as border security, customs, deportation proceedings etc.

  4. Please pass this rule asap. I am not even allowed to do volunteering in hospitals because they are not able to do background check without SSN. It affects my family a lot.


  5. I pray for this from my heart. I lived in Canada for 15 years and I am Canadian Citizen, my two sons born in Canada as well. I am on H1B since 8 years and my I 140 got approved in 2010. My wife can not work and my son will be in college soon. Hard to maintain with one income. I wish my kids can get in to good college and get scholarship. They can not work even they are born in Canada. My priority date is 11/2008 in EB3. I am seriously counting on this to happen soon.

  6. I needed your guidance in this matter as it affects my family in a big way.

    Currently I have an H1B approved from CompA (beyond 6 years of H1B) and it was granted on the basis of an approved I-140 from CompB.

    I no longer work for CompB. As a policy ComB does not cancel approved I-140s so I believe it will be valid for sometime. My priority date on EB3 is Aug 2012

    I-140 CompB Details are
    Priority date is – 21 Aug 2012
    Approved date is – 28 Nov 2012

    H1B CompA Details are
    Approved 24 Apr 2014 valid till April 30 2017

    Since I am no longer with CompB but still working on H1B (same work for CompA ) and have an approved I-40 from another company that I no longer work with – will my spouse still be able to benefit from the H4 EAD spousal work permit coming into affect ?

    Are you aware of any specific date that these reforms will come to affect.

    Will really appreciate if you could throw some light into this.

    Much Regards,

  7. I am happy that there is a hope now for all those fulfill the criteria for EAD for H4 rule. However, I am unsure about the timeline as when I can actually start working. I have strong IT experience from India and couldnt thru lottery this year. Really looking forward for this.

  8. This is a fantastic move..
    Most of the h4 spouses are very educated and can do better for the country.. Not allowing them to work brings dissatisfaction in immigrants and also is not good for countries welfare.
    I am an IT professional, I was on H1 but after my kids I chose to be on H4, but now i am deprived of working as my status does not allow me to work though I have all the skill-sets to work..
    If this rule of h4 getting EAD passes I can get back to work.. Earn and pay taxes for country’s welfare.. I strongly support this act as it’s in favor of everyone..

    • Hi Everyone,

      Please don’t use words like “I can contribute to the country”. At the its all self help we are doing and we care about our income and our jobs. That’s it nothing more nothing less.

      While it is welcome change, i see that it will be abused by fakers in a big way. At the end it is all about prospering ourselves no complaining at all.

      So sit tight and see what DHS decides finally … i too eagerly waiting for the same.

  9. I am on h1 b recently applied for a green card. My perm is in audit queue which will take one year to process. My company is paying me very less because of my visa situation. If I change companies are my i140 approval will my wife who is on h4 still gets to keep her ead?

  10. For sure am praying hard for this rule to be approved. as an H4 visa holder, am here seated at home frustrated that i cant work yet back in my home country i used to work. And now i come here to join my husband after our wedding coz he is on H1B and i cant be allowed to work. it is not proper. why would someone who spent time and money going to school to get a job later on not be allowed to work?
    This country is soo expensive. Bills are like Bills. so for sure, one income is not enough for a family.
    Thats why some H1B holders n their spouses get frustrated and end up going back to their home countries.
    Am requesting that this issue is looked into seriously. we have been praying for this Bill and are so happy that God is soon answerin our prayers.
    Otherwise i was so frustrated and stressed and felt like leaving my husband here and go back home.

  11. What is the reason for not including all H4 visa holders in this rule ? I am sure the left out group must be very small as compared with the one with beneficiaries. If sole purpose of this proposal as mentioned is to reduce the economic deficit of families with single earning member, they should have included all the H4 visa holders.

    But, as the saying goes- something is better than nothing, I hope this becomes a law soon !

  12. L1 spouses get work permit as soon as they enter the states. Why do they get the work permit while the H1B spouses can’t. H4 EAD is long awaited rule. It should go into effect asap.

    • Because your husbands depends on companies who help them get a H1 and then ditch them immediately and have not idea how much the companies hard involved. If they give H4 work permit immediately the divorce rate and cheating rate increases by 500% immediately because girls marry H1B guys get thier work permit ditch them and get thier lovers in on h4 … so on and so forth

  13. This is wonderful news for work visa immigration reform. Most of the employers have policies like they can’t file for I-140 until your last year of H1B, that is almost 5 yrs that a spouse will not be able to work. And thats a long career senescence. Although this rule is great news, the eligibility criteria can be modified in order to reduce the career gap the spouse will face to be able to work in the same field as the education or previous work to retain the skills of the spouses and also strengthening entrepreneurship from around the world.

  14. Don’t the people coming on H1 already know the financial pitfalls they will suffer. Then why the need for this rule? What about the people who have come here and worked hard?

    • You don’t , people came here should work hard? continue working hard and hard. why hell are you against the rule? Who are all here know about and want a change in system. which can help their families.

    • I was brought here when I was 5. I am now 19 and can not pay for college because only my dad makes the money and my brother is also in college. I do not get any federal aid because of the fact that I am an H4 and do not have a social security number. So no I did not know the pitfalls 14 years ago. We deserve to go to college and work just like any citizen because we pay taxes and help this economy. My dad came here and worked his ass off so its not any different.

  15. everything is fine…but when it is gonna be approved actually..???? we all are waiting.. In other words people who are in this country for 2 or three years and they have H1-B visas for more 3 or 4 years ahead, their employers are not approving their I-140..In that case what will do their spouses who are in H4??? In that case U.S govt. should pass another proposal i.e ‘approve all the green card applications though applicant’s have work permit visa for more than 3 or 4 years..’

  16. I was on L1 for three years and now completed 3+ on H1B. Will my wife who in currently on h4 be eligible for EAD per the new law?

    • Only if I140 is approved. Refer to ‘H4 Visa Holders EAD Eligibility 2014 Rules’ .You need to get Green processing started as soon as possible. ‘Go Green’

  17. this will be great for h4 visa holders who are sitting at home and wasting thier education and cant move forward. its really depressing when you see yourself stuck like this. i really really hope h4 ead rule gets implemented. it will lead towards a healthy, independent, satisfying and more than anything a happy lifestyle.

  18. For the majority of the H-4 women this EAD-rule means nothing !

    – If you have not worked for a number of years you are seen as damaged material. No employer will hire you then without US work experience.
    – The husband must have an approved I-140 petition. In EB-3 and for most of EB-3 this means labor certification. That can be a complicated and long procedure. Think years.
    – Or the husband must be in extensions of the H-1B’s. These extensions start after six years !

    At the moment an H-4 visa holder already can get an EAD (work permit) if the husband has an approved I-140 and is willing to forgo H-1B status and go for EAD status. But many employers do not like that I heard.

    Some highly educated husbands can get a green card through EB-1 or EB-2 with Nat. Interest Waiver. For that category the wives will possibly be in a better position.

    But for the others, nothing. Except that the solidarity felt in the last years amongst H-4 women will be lost thanks to this rule.

  19. The new rule is definitely going to help the people looking forward to work, but not able to H4 work ineligibility. Good movement from the US Govt.

    • The proposed regulations and comments, as well as the instructions on how to submit one’s own comments, are available in the Federal Register.http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=USCIS-2010-0017

  20. Allowing Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses to Apply for Employment Authorization.

    A major Public Participation is required as public comments are required for this is rule to come true.

    ALL H4 and all who support this rule submit your positive comments IMMEDIATELY.

    You may submit comments, identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0017, by the following method:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before July 11, 2014.

  21. Hi

    Is this applicable to Spouse only OR Kids are also covered. Reason I am asking is my son is on H4 and in college, he is not getting Internship due status and not having SSN


  22. What about spouses who have worked for max limit and then converted visa to H4? The husband has approved I140 and is currently on H1. Will this rule of EAD apply to those spouse’s as well?

  23. Hey Saurabh,

    I have this question and unable to find answer. Can one apply for I-140 only after he has completed 6 years in US? or If the company plans to apply for GC early itself can it be applied?

    I came to US in Sept 2013 and my current approval ends in Sept 2016. My company is expected to start processing for permanent residence next yr. Wanted to know if I-140 can be applied next yr itself or I need to apply for extension first and only after Sept 2019 I-140 can be applied

    • I140 approval is Step 2 in Green card process. After your Green card is filed it will take at least an year in current trend to get I140 Approved.

      Can one apply for I-140 only after he has completed 6 years in US? – No. Your I140 has to be approved before max out period.

  24. If I bring my wife after the rule comes out and I have I140 by then ,then will she be eligible immediately or there is a queue for that as well ?

  25. I have a question about this EAD … will the H4 dependent be able to work anywhere after getting the EAD or work for just one employer as the H1B. I mean will the EAD for the H4 spouses be employer dependent like H1B or no.

  26. I can’t wait for this law to be official. It will make things a lot easier for those of us on H4 that meet the criteria. However, I have friends who are highly skilled who are spouses of individuals with H1B but not applying for green card who will not benefit from this rule. I think it should be extended to
    all H4 holders to have the full effects. I hope they make the adjustment to benefit all.

    • I agree with everything you mentioned in your comment. But if we request everyone on H4 irrespective of their spouse’s Green Card/I140 status to be given EAD then the Government will not pass this rule. It has happened 4 years ago for the same reason. The problem with giving every H4 an EAD is that they accompany their spouse to the US for a short period of time in most cases.

      The company in the home country (say Wipro in India for example) sends the H-1B to the US on a project for a year, the spouse joins the H-1B person, gets an EAD, works for a year and returns when the spouse has to return to their actual employer in India. Another scenario is when both H-1B and H4 come to the US, H4 applies for EAD and gets it, H-1B quits their job with the employer in India and joins another company in the US. This will result in major attrition for the employers in India and the whole system fails when this happens.

      • What is not clear to me is how is the scenario different with other visa’s with Indian companies say L1 visa holders.L2 dependent accompany their spouse and are eligible for EAD and returns home country.Please clarify

      • “H4 applies for EAD and gets it, H-1B quits their job with the employer in India and joins another company in the US.” If H1B (India) quits their employer in India, means they do not have an employer to sponsor their visa so they wont be able to work in US. I am pretty sure DHS is smart enough to have workarounds for such cases.

  27. Hi I had a previously approved i140 and after my position within the same company changed my employer has filed a new PERM and once that is processed , my priority date will be recaptured. Will that make my spouse eligible during this time when my perm is being processed if the rule gets approved by then?

  28. After long years of wait,nice to see some bright light.Being highly skilled and wasting the talent,getting bored,being inside home!Each day goes like what to do today?!

    Will be a very good Thankful decision.

  29. The criteria posted above is not correct. According to DHS, you only need to satisfy one of them, not both.

  30. This is of no use to many of us. They need to allow all h4s. Then only they can get ppls with real and up to date experience/knowledge

    • What makes you think they need to allow everyone with H4 to work? I personally think they need to refine their process of giving H1B in the first case. A lot of unskilled and candidates with fake resumes are getting the visa.

  31. Does anyone know what specific changes they are proposing for the EB-1 researcher/professor category?

    What I’ve read online just says that they’re expanding the list of evidentiary criteria, but doesn’t specify precisely what.

    • The rule will be published in the Federal register. It will go through a 60 day period for public comments. It could be end of the year before the rule goes into effect

  32. I don’t see much benifit with this rule as people who have their I-140 aprooved will anyhow get their EAD after one yr from then. So it doesn’t make much change for those whose waited for 6yrs to wait for one more year.

    I would be thankful if any one can elaborate the much benifits of this rule..?

      • I have my I140 approved for the last 3 years. My wife has applied for H-1B for the last 2 years but couldn’t get through the lottery. Neither of us are in the IT professions. I am an Industrial Engineer and she’s a CA and CPA. This rule will benefit us. EAD is not given within an year of I140. EAD given when the priority date becomes current. Right now, the GC applications that USCIS is looking are from Nov 2004. I have been in this country for 10 years now. My wife is here for the last 4 years. If it wasn’t for this rule, we would have moved back to India or to any other country that values our education.

        • @Priya thats not true, you dont get an EAD in one year, those days are long gone :). The problem I see is you still have to wait 6 years, but I guess its a lot better than before.

          • RJ is right. My husband got his I140 3+years back.. no ead yet.. 🙁
            This rule is a relief to women like me who have been sitting at home for more than 4-5 years. Thank you for all those who are somewhere in someplace contributing to this rule. I have N number of friends in Seattle area who will hold the same comment as mine. Its the best thing that can happen to us. I agree it may be extended to others, but as someone said previously it got delayed/rejected for the very same reason. Thank you and looking for positive answer on this rule soon.

          • EAD is given only if priority date is current adn only when you are eligible toapply for I-485. There is huge backlog for Indian and Chinese applicants. If you are not from these 2 countries, you may have to wait less to get EAD. Probably Priya is not from India(even though she has Indian name).

          • Sitting home marrying a H1 B guys to come to USA is offcourse ur dream and ur families … I am sure u you are enjoying fun all day … Day with kids and nights with Hubby fulll satisfaction .. keep it going

  33. That will be wonderful. Cant wait for this rule to be passed. Is there any way we could support this proposal, as they have mentioned about receiving comments from the public?

    • This is almost done. Those comments are to see if they have to do any changes to rules, These comments will not effect the outcome only effect who will qualify for EAD.

    • Noooooooo.
      As per the News release, you’re eligible only if you either hold a Green Card and your application for Green Card is in-progress

      • Hey Ams,
        I am on H1B and my PERM is in progress since 2012 but I have not received I140 approval yet, so I think I am eligible for applying H4 EAD for my wife, but just wanted know as what proof I would need to provide if I do not have my I140 approval notice.

        • Hi. I am no expert but from whatever I have read so far, you need to have your I-140 in hand so that your wife is eligible for H4 EAD. In your case, your wife needs to wait till your PERM is approved and I-140 is approved.


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