Two recent lawsuits have challenged USCIS rules implemented under the former administration. The rules increased processing times for H-4s and H-4 EADs.
Before March 2019, USCIS typically adjudicated H-1B petitions with any H-4 dependent petitions and H-4 EAD applications. Now, USCIS can take two years to process many H-4 applications. Current processing times at the California Service Center for I-539 H dependents are 19 – 24.5 months. Wait times increased after USCIS began requiring H-4 spouses to supply biometrics.
In Kolluri v. USCIS, filed in September 2020, plaintiffs charged that the biometrics policy was designed to make retaining or obtaining H-4 work authorization more difficult. In a motion in Gona v. USCIS, filed on February 8th, 2021, plaintiff’s counsel argues that wait times for H-4 extensions outstrip those of other extension applicants. “Regardless of which service center adjudicates the petition, the applicant is mathematically guaranteed to lose immigration status and employment authorization.”
USCIS argues additional H-4 biometrics were implemented to verify the identity of people who had lived in America for years and to avoid files being mixed up. The new rules followed Trump administration threats to eliminate Obama-era regulations allowing H-4 work authorization.