For the first time ever, H-4 visa holders will be able to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) starting from May 26th 2015.
Who can apply?
Spouses of H-1B visa holders who have an approved I-140 or are in the extension period of their H-1bs beyond 6 years.
How to apply?
You can file using Form I-765 which can be obtained from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. You will need $380 for the filing fees and supporting evidence to prove eligibility.
How long will it take?
I-765 applications take about 90 days to process.
What do I do after I receive my EAD?
If you have not worked before, the first step to take will be to apply for a social security number with the Department of Social Security. It can take anywhere between 3 days to 8 weeks to receive a social security number.
What will be the duration of my EAD?
The EAD duration will likely be the same as your H-4 visa status. It can be issued for up to 3 years.
Where can I work?
As an H-4 visa holder, your work is not restricted to a specific employer. Therefore, you can work anywhere you want. You can also work for yourself, if you had a burning desire to run your own business!
All in all, this is a profound moment in immigration history. This was a hard fought win for activists and advocates fighting for this privilege. The USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez mentioned during a stakeholder teleconference recently that he received emails and calls every 15 minutes during an 8 month period from people telling their stories of hardship.
While it would have been better, in my opinion, to allow all H-4 visa holders to apply for work authorization, it is hoped the rule can be broadened in the future.
I hope everyone eligible applies for work authorization and engages in meaningful work that contributes to the U.S. economy which will prove that this was a necessary to step to economic prosperity.