On May 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule to amend existing regulations to allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B workers to request employment authorization. Under current regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to H-1B dependents.
The new rule provides for requests for employment authorization from H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who:
• Have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
• Have been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay beyond the six-year limit and are in line for a green card.
DHS explains that the rule is aimed at attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants. It is estimated that it could benefit almost 100,000 H-4 visa holders this year and approximately 30,000 annually in the coming years.
For more information about this proposed rule, please see the DHS website.