H4 Extension – Employment Authorization for Dependent Spouses of H1B Visa Holders

H4 Extension is an employment authorization document that allows dependent spouses of people on H1B visas to work in the United States. It is an important tool for families that cannot meet their financial obligations on one income.

However, there are some restrictions if you travel with an H4 Extension/ COS or EAD Pending with USCIS.

Expiration Date

When someone is on a nonimmigrant visa, their status ends on the date that the visa expires. This is typically shown as the “Duration of Status” or D/S on their Form I-20 or DS-2019.

  • H4 visa holders, on the other hand, are given work authorization through an EAD (Employment Authorization biDocument). As such, their EADs come with an expiration date and must be extended before they run out of time.

USCIS processing times have been abysmal during the COVID-19 pandemic and the H4 process has suffered significantly. This has led to many people not receiving their extensions in time before their EAD runs out.

Fortunately, this has changed with the introduction of a temporary rule to increase the automatic extension period from 180 days to 540 days. This change will allow H4 EAD holders to continue working without having to worry about losing their jobs or filing individual lawsuits to force the government to process applications in a timely manner.

Filing an Extension Petition

H4 visa holders need to file an extension petition with USCIS in order to maintain employment authorization. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times for the EAD extension are long and delays are common.

Fortunately, the recent EAD update has changed some of that. This change allows eligible H4 spouses to have their EAD extended up to 540 days from the date their current EAD expires, assuming that they submit their EAD extension application before the 540-day auto-extension period ends.

If you’re facing lengthy processing times, filing an EAD extension may require you to make some changes in your employment status or career plans. To help you minimize the impact of long wait times on your career and personal life, contact an experienced green card attorney. They can guide you through the process of submitting an extension request and potentially qualifying for premium processing. This could speed up your process by a month or more.

Filing a Renewal Petition

The cost of living is rising in America, and many households require two incomes to make ends meet. This is especially true for non-immigrants who work in the United States and depend on employment-based H-4 EADform to continue working and supporting their families. Unfortunately, standard EAD processing times can be lengthy.

USCIS has recently announced new rules that will extend the EAD of certain people who have pending renewal applications. This is a welcome change for individuals who would otherwise have had to leave the United States in order to maintain their status or file costly lawsuits to get their EADs expedited.

However, it is still best to consult with a green card attorney who can help navigate these changing laws and regulations. The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm has a team of experienced attorneys who are ready to help clients stay in the United States, and can help them successfully extend their EAD. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.

Filing a Change of Status Petition

Many individuals in the United States rely on dual incomes to meet household needs and maintain their lifestyle. This is especially true for H-4 visa holders, spouses of H-1B employees. However, long wait times for the processing of H-4 EAD applications may put strain on families that need both spouses to work.

Under certain circumstances, a change of status petition can be filed to extend an H-4 EAD. For example, USCIS may expedite an EAD request for people who work in cultural or religious nonprofit roles, or for those who are critical, key workers whose employment is essential to the normal operations of a workplace and could result in layoffs if the worker were to lose their job.

The change of status petition process is complicated and should be handled by an experienced attorney. It is important to note that, in general, you should not travel outside the United States while a change of status application is pending with USCIS, as doing so will cause your petition to be abandoned.


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