On January 25, 2023, the agreement settlement of Edakumi v Mayorkas came into effect providing a benefit to H-4 and L-2 visa holders.
H-1B spouses are in H-4 status and can obtain an H-4 EAD (employment authorization document) that authorizes them to work in the United States. To apply to extend/change status(Form I-539) H-4 and L-2 visa holders need to include the principal applicant I-129 form, needed by the principal applicant to extend its H-1B/ L-1 status. When filing for such an application, spouses of H-1b holders and L-1 holders faced many delays in obtaining work authorization. As a result of the delay, many spouses lost their jobs.
Before March 2019, USCIS would usually adjudicate a dependent petition and dependent EAD application at the same time as the H-1B petition from the same family. However, under the Trump administration, new policies changed the game, and dependents had to wait up to 2 years to obtain another employment authorization.
New Settlement Change:
As a result of such delay, there was a new lawsuit, Edakunni v. Mayorkas, filed on April 2021. The agreement settlement of that lawsuit came into effect on January 25 and agreed to the following:
- Allow an automatic extension to H-4 Nonimmigrants who filed their H-4 EAD renewal applications timely. The automatic extension will be connected to their current I-94 record, the approval or denial of their EAD renewal, or 180 days after the expiration. Whatever happens earlier.
- Provide work authorization to L-2 Nonimmigrants, who are continuing to have a valid nonimmigrant status, without requiring them to have an official Employment Authorization Document.
In other words, due to the settlement, USCIS will return to adjudicate the extension of status and authorization to work for H-4 and L-2 Dependents with the underlying principal applicant’s form I-129, when those forms are properly and concurrently filed. This settlement will enter into place if they are filed under standard or premium processing.