Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants are Eligible to Seek Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just announced on February 24, 2015 that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.

Working in the United States

The U.S. welcomes skilled foreign workers interested in living in the U.S. However, foreigners need to obtain permission to work here. There are different employment categories and the requirements for each category are different.

Non-immigrant Workers

USCIS permits foreign workers to come to the U.S. on temporary non-immigrant work visas. Such workers can come to the U.S. for a specific purpose and work here for a particular period of time.

There are several types of non-immigrant work visas available for foreign workers. For example, U.S. employers bring highly skilled foreign workers to the U.S. through H-1B visas. Likewise, H-1A visas are meant for agricultural workers and H-2B visas for non-agricultural workers. O visas are granted to foreign workers with extraordinary ability and P visas to athletes, artists and entertainers.

Permanent Workers

In certain cases, U.S. employers offer foreign workers permanent jobs and sponsor such workers for legal status. As such, these workers can get immigrant visas and immigrate to the U.S. Workers who immigrate to the U.S. and get permanent resident cards (green cards) can live and work permanently in the U.S.

Other Workers

International students and exchange visitors may also be allowed to work in the U.S. International students must obtain permission from the Designated School Officials (DSO) at the schools where they are studying. Exchange visitors must obtain permission from the Responsible Officers (RO), before they take up a job.

Prior to hiring foreign workers, U.S. employers need to make sure that the employees who they want to hire are eligible to work in the country. The immigration status of the green card holders, refugees and asylees permits them to legally work in the U.S. They do not need permits to work here.

There are some categories of non-immigrants who are required to get employment authorization documents to work in the U.S. These people are:

  • non-immigrants whose status permits them to work in the U.S.
  • those who are authorized to work for particular U.S. employers
  • persons whose non-immigrant status requires them to obtain work permits to work in the U.S.


– from USCIS