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Settlement of USCIS Lawsuit Gives Major Win to H, L and E Visa Spouses for Work Permits

Posted by Hugo Valverde | Nov 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

There are many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving week, but we want to highlight something that families here on H, L, or E visas will be particularly thankful for.

This week we want to highlight a class-action lawsuit, Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas, that the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has been fighting on behalf of nonimmigrant spouses, which just settled. 

AILA, in conjunction with their litigation partners, just secured a legal outcome which radically changes the way that nonimmigrant H-4 spouses are treated, as well as L2 spouses. Rather than waiting for a panel of judges to rule on this case, USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security settled with AILA, securing a smoother working future for L and H visa holder spouses. 

Further, although not part of the lawsuit, the Policy Guidance that USCIS just issued to reflect the legal changes also includes a shift in the way that E visa spouses are treated. 

The Outcome

Effective immediately, H-4 spouses, which are dependent spouses of nonimmigrant workers holding either an H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 visa, will be able to have their employment authorization automatically extended if they have an unexpired I-94. 

E and L dependent spouses can now be employment authorized incident to their status and therefore are no longer required to request employment authorization by filing a Form I-765 unless they choose to receive an EAD.

This is fantastic news, but may take a little longer to implement for those that are currently in the country. The new Policy Guidance holds that E, L, and H-4 spouses must have a current I-94 and have properly filed an application to renew their H-4, E, or L-based EAD before it expires. USCIS has stated that the automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earlier of: the end date on Form I-94 showing valid status, the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the date of expiration of the previous EAD. 

This essentially means that those who have currently pending EAD filings may want to think about exiting and reentering the U.S. in order to have a later date on their I-94. 

If you have questions about whether you should exit and reenter the U.S., or need help in determining whether you can do anything to speed up your employment authorization document (EAD) application, please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

About the Author

Hugo Valverde

Hugo's passion for immigration law stems from his own family's immigration experience. His father and mother came to the United States from Peru fleeing political persecution, and as he grew up, Hugo spent many summers in Peru. Hugo uses his experience growing up in an immigrant family and time a...


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