After a four year delay, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finally published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. This benefit will not pass down to children of H-1B holders and will be limited to those H-4 dependents married to H-1B visa holders that are:

  • Principal beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140), or
  • Have been granted H-1B status in the United States under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act .

The rule was published on February 25, 2015 and takes effect on May 26, 2015. For details please see our client alert.

On a related note, we remind employers that H-1B season is upon us. On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, USCIS will begin accepting filings of H-1B visa petitions for employment in the fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016). Employers should now be preparing H-1B petitions for new and existing employees eligible for a first-time H-1B visa to begin employment on or after October 1, 2015. The demand for FY 2016 H-1B visas is expected to exceed the supply and USCIS will likely conduct a “lottery” to randomly select petitions for adjudication. For more information, see our previously issued client alert.