New Automatic Extension of Employment Authorization for E-visa Dependent Spouses
USCIS policy alert from November 12, 2021, states that the employment authorization procedure for E and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses will become automatic.
What does this change mean?
USCIS will consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized for the duration of their valid E or L status, which is determined by the visa holder’s I-94.
Significance of the I-94 “Admit Until Date”
The “Admit until Date” on the I-94 determines the duration of the valid E or L status, not the expiration date listed on the E or L visa. The “admit until date” is the date the visa expires. Visa holders are not authorized to work beyond the “admit until date” on their I-94 without extension or application to change status.
Significance of the E-Visa Expiration Date
The expiration date listed on the E or L visa is the last day that the visa holder may travel to a port-of-entry in the United States.
When will the change, which grants E and L visa dependent spouses employment authorization incident to status, take place?
This change will take place once the Department of Homeland Security revises the Forms I-94 evidencing nonimmigrant status so that E and L dependent spouses are distinguished from E and L dependent children on the face of the document. The revised Form I-94 will contain a notation indicating that the bearer is an E or L dependent spouse.
The guidance released by USCIS on November 12, 2021 is effective immediately.
Until the USCIS revises the I-94 to delineate between dependent spouses and dependent children, is there an automatic extension for E and L dependent spouses?
Yes. Until the USCIS revises the I-94 to delineate between dependent spouses and dependent children, the automatic extension of employment authorizations for E and L dependent spouses will at the earlier of three dates:
- the “Admit Until Date” on the visa holder’s I-94, since this indicates the end of the visa holder’s valid nonimmigrant status;
- the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application; or
- 180 days from the expiration of the previous EAD.
What papers can I present to prove employment authorization until the USCIS revises the I-94 for Form I-9 purposes?
The following combination of documents is sufficient to prove employment authorization:
(1) an unexpired Form I-94;
(2) a Form I-797C (Notice of Action) showing a timely-filed EAD renewal application in the (a)(17) or (a)(18) categories; and
(3) a facially expired EAD under the same category.
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