Expanded employment authorization will help foreign spouses eager to work

A series of class action lawsuits propelled action from the Biden Administration this month regarding the complex process for the spouses of U.S. work visa holders to obtain work authorization. According to the National Law Review, the program expansion is expected to help thousands of spouses of foreign executives, managers, and specialty occupation workers who themselves have been facing extraordinary delays due to backlogs in processing applications in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. So, what changes took place?


Immediate authorization. Spouses of L-1 visa holders (who are sponsored by U.S. firms as executives, managers, or a position requiring specialized knowledge) will automatically receive work authorization, rather than applying for a separate employment authorization card before their arrival in the United States. 


Seamless extensions. The new rules will also reverse the current USCIS policy that prevented spouses of H-1B visa holders from being able to take advantage of the automatic extension of their employment authorization while their applications were pending. Now, automatic extensions should significantly cut down paperwork backlogs at USCIS and enable H-1B spouses to seamlessly continue working. 


Auto-renewals. On the same goal to cut down USCIS backlogs and maintain a more efficient process for applicants and government officials, one change we will also see is an automatic work authorization extension for certain spouses of H-1B visa holders for up to six months if their visa has not expired.  


If you’re the spouse of an L1 or H-1B visa holder, be sure to contact an immigration attorney today to ensure your employment authorization is processed according to these new guidelines.