Some relief for spouses of immigrant workers in the US at last. As directed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), spouses of immigrants will no more be required to apply for work authorisation to continue working. Spouses of L-1 and H1B visa holders will be allowed 180 days of automatic extension post expiry of their work permit.
While L-1 spouses or L-2 visa holders will not even need to apply for extension, H4 visa holders will still have to apply for the same once their permit expires. Considering that about 90 per cent of H4 applications are received from Indian women, this is a small victory of sorts and brings relief to many.
For some time now, H4 employment authorisation document (EAD) visa holders, or spouses of H-1B visa holders, have been losing their jobs simply because their work permits were not renewed on time, and that too by no fault of their own. The pandemic-induced backlog was causing the delay.
Earlier this year, a bunch of Indian nationals and lawyers had filed a class action lawsuit questioning the US immigration policy that disallowed L-2 and H4 visa holders from working unless and until they had a work permit.
This put the spouses of L-1 and H1B visa holders at a huge disadvantage. Thanks to the time-consuming processing, they lost jobs while waiting for their employment permits to be renewed,.
With this new settlement, H-4 and L-2 visa holders will be able to continue in their jobs provided they possess a valid visa, even if they are waiting for their work permit to be renewed.