On February 24, 2015, the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective May 26, 2015 the Department of Homeland Security is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.
This move fits squarely within the immigration executive actions announced by President Obama in November 2014.
Eligibility Requirements. DHS amended the regulations to allow certain individuals to accept employment in the United States as follows:
• Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are the principal beneficiaries of an approved form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; OR
• Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who have been granted H-1B status under AC21, permitting H-1B non-immigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.
USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves an application for employment authorization, the applicant H-4 dependent spouse may begin working in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B non-immigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society.
In Other News: DAPA/ Expanded DACA Update. On February 17, 2015, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that pursuant to the preliminary injunction issued by a Federal Judge, the Department will not accept requests for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) under the expanded version as announced by President Obama in November 2014. As well, DHS will also suspend the plan to accept requests for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) until further notice.
Original DACA Still Available. Eligible individuals may still avail of the existing DACA policy based on the guidelines established in 2012.
To recap, an individual is eligible under DACA eligibility if the following requirements are met: He/she (i) were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; (ii) came to the United States before 16th birthday; (iii) has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; (iv) was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; (v) entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012; (vi) is currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and (vii) has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Beware of Scams. Those who might be eligible for any immigration benefit or program should consult with an experienced, licensed immigration attorney to obtain an in-depth consultation about the law, what the law requires, and how to proceed. In addition, people should be wary of online tools that offer immigration help or notarios who are not licensed to practice law.
Atty. Lilli A. Baculi is an associate attorney in Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; [email protected]