Automatic Increased Extension of Work Permits May Not Benefit All H-1B Spouses

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a new rule which will increase the automatic extension period for Employment Authorization Documents to a total of 18-months after the facial expiration date of the documents. Though this rule will benefit many foreign national workers, critics of the new policy have complained that the new rule will fail to benefit many spouses of H-1-B visa holders.

The new temporary regulation is intended to compensate for the significant delays in processing that many workers are currently dealing with as the agency struggles with a considerable backlog of cases. By adding an additional 360 days to the existing 180-day period of the automatic extension, USCIS hopes to prevent causing gaps in employment for qualified individuals. The temporary policy will extend until late October 2023, during which period the agency hopes to address its backlog of approximately 1.5 million EAD renewals and reduce processing delays.

However, though the rule covers an extensive range of EAD applicants, including some spouses of H-1B and L-1 workers, any H-4 visa holders will still face challenges. In order to benefit from the new automatic extension of EADs, an H-4 visa holder will require a still valid H-4 visa and unexpired Form I-94. However, for many H-1B spouses acquiring an appointment for H-4 visa approval or an I-94 stamp in time to benefit from the automatic extension could be difficult or impossible.

The date of entry is the date that is found on an I-94, and it also shows the amount of time the individual is permitted to remain in the United States. The difficulty in getting an appointment to update an I-94 stamp means that although this new rule will help many individuals, a number of visa holders are still at risk of having their work authorization expire. This is particularly a problem for H-4 visa holders who have suffered significant delays in renewing the documents necessary to be eligible for this extension.

Employment regulations are constantly changing for employment eligibility, and it is crucial for employers to remain in compliance. One of the best ways to ensure your workplace remains up to date with employment eligibility regulations is to invest in an electronic I-9 management system. This will guide employers in completing the employment eligibility verification process and ensure secure and reliable storage of forms and documentation.

When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.