DHS announces proposed rule change to allow H4 spouses to work

May 06, 2014

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it will be publishing a proposal to modify existing regulations to allow spouses of H-1B workers who have "started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment" to apply for employment authorization. According to the DHS announcement:

Eligible individuals would include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B workers who:

  • Are the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit.

In addition, DHS also announced minor technical liberalizations of rules for H-1B1 (Chile and Singapore) and E-3 (Australia) workers, as well as a minor expansion of the criteria applied to EB1 Outstanding Researcher green card petitions allowing the use of comparable evidence as is allowed for EB1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability.

The DHS announcement is available online at

NOTE: because this is a proposed rule, it may or may not be implemented in its current form, and will not take effect until an interim final or final rule is published, which may take several months or more.



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