The Department of Homeland Security recently proposed a new rule that would extend employment authorization to spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the United States in H-4 nonimmigrant status. Currently there is no such employment authorization for H-4 nonimmigrants. The rule would apply if: (1) the H-1B principal is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140; or (2) the H-1B principal has been granted an extension of his/her authorized period of stay under AC21 (which permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to remain and work in the U.S. beyond the normal six-year H-1B limit).
In the same announcement DHS proposed other rule amendments to enhance opportunities for skilled workers. These changes would: include H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrants in the group of aliens authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer; clarify that such nonimmigrants would not have to separately apply for work authorization via Form I-765; and allow E-3, H-1B1 and CW-1 nonimmigrants workers 240 days of continued work authorization beyond the expiration date noted on the nonimmigrant’s I-94 while a status extension request is pending.
DHS also announced that the proposal would expand the list of appropriate evidence for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers to align the category with other employment-based categories.