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H4 EAD - Useful Insights For You
March 25, 2022
5 mins
The American Flag with the inscription " H-4 Visa" in the middle of it.

In the following article, you will read about:

  1. A brief introduction to Employment Authorization Document
  2. Eligibility criteria for getting an EAD
  3. Process for EAD application and renewal

The Employment Authorization Document: A Brief Definition

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to foreign nationals living in the US, who they find eligible to join the US workforce. The EAD can also be called a work permit. It is officially called Form I-766. Any foreigner owning an EAD is authorized to work in any capacity. But it is worth noting that both employers and employees can be subjected to punishment and even imprisonment if found to be engaging in any illegal employment arrangements.

Your H4 EAD Status - Do You Have It, or Should You Apply?

Every US employer has the responsibility to demand an EAD from any prospective foreign employee. Some foreign nationals, such as permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, or those holding non-immigrant work visas, get their EAD by default. Others may have to apply for it.

H4 EAD Eligibility - What are the Requirements?

Two categories of non-immigrants may have to apply for an EAD:

  1. Foreign nationals who may be authorized to work but still need proof of that authorization
  2. Foreign nationals who live in the US but require special permission to enter any employment contract. Asylum seekers, certain students, and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) candidates may fall under this category.

Here is a detailed list of individuals this may apply to:

  • Foreign nationals who have filed for a green card (adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident)
  • Spouses dependant on visa holders in the E and L categories
  • Dependants of J-visa holders
  • F1 students who wish to gain optional practical experience in a field related to their area of study
  • F1 students who have gained off-campus employment under the sponsorship of a qualifying international organization
  • M1 students who need practical training after completion of studies
  • F1, M1, and J1 students who require work because of severe financial difficulty
  • Dependants of foreign government diplomats and officials, and NATO personnel
  • K1 financers or financees of US citizens, as well as K2 dependants
  • Personal attendants or domestic servants of employers who enter the US under the B, E, F, H, I, J, or L non-immigrant visa
  • Non-immigrant servants of US citizens under the B1 Visa
  • Employees of foreign airlines on a non-immigrant B1 visa
  • Foreign nationals under the Family Unity Program
  • Foreigners under asylum in the US
  • Foreigners who have submitted completed applications for asylum or withholding from deportation or removal
  • Foreign national with a refugee status
  • People who were paroled as refugees in the US.
  • Non-US citizens under a 'temporary protected 'status'
  • Citizens of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, or Palau admitted to the US.
  • Those who have applied for suspension of deportation
  • Foreigners paroled into the US for reasons of public interest or emergent reasons
  • De-portable foreigners granted voluntary departure who can establish economic necessity to work
  • Foreigners on V non-immigrant status
  • Foreign nationals living in the US as a parent (N8) or child (N9) of a foreigner granted permanent residence.
  • Foreign nationals on a non-immigrant status under a T2, T3, or T4 category

Dependent Spouses of H1B Visa Holders: Do You Qualify for EAD?

The USCIS was considering the possibility of eliminating employment privileges for H4 visa holders, but a final decision is yet to be taken.

Currently, H4 Visa holders having an EAD have unrestricted access to job opportunities in the US. There are no requirements for specialized skills, unlike H1 visa holders. H4 visa owners with an EAD are even eligible to work as self-employed individuals.

A 2014-15 ordinance passed by the USCIS authorizes any H4 visa holder who possesses an EAD free pass to pursue employment. The only eligibility criteria include:

  • The H4 applicant must qualify for an EAD.
  • The spouse of the H4 visa holder must have an H1B visa status.
  • The H1B visa must be valid when you apply for H4 EAD.
  • The H1B visa holder must have an approved I-140 Petition for immigrant workers. In cases where the I-140 has been revoked, the H4 visa holder can no longer seek employment. Once the I-140 has been successfully approved, the H4 EAD is automatically validated.

Upon expiry, the USCIS allows the H4 applicant to apply for an EAD extension within 180 days of the expiration date.

Also Read : All You Need to Know About H4 Visa Extension

What Should I Do to Apply for an EAD?

Hopeful H4 work authorization applicants must file Form I-765: Application For Employment Authorization with the USCIS. You will also need separate supporting documentation for each of the eligibility criteria mentioned above. It is critical to prove eligibility through your documentation.

You can apply for an EAD at any time. EAD applications are processed within 60 - 90 days. You will find the download link for Form - I-765 on USCIS.gov., along with instructions for compiling and submitting your application.

EAD For H4 Visas: A Condensed Document Submission List

Most EAD applicants will need to submit the following docs to complete their application:

  • EAD Application form: Form I-765
  • Applicable USCIS fees
  • Copy of I-94 card with arrival/departure details
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Proof of eligibility

This is a condensed documentation list. Every application will differ on a case-by-case basis since many categories of immigrants could be eligible for EAD.

For example, a VAWA self-petitioner must include a copy of the I-360 approval notice, among other documents. An asylum seeker must submit a copy of the court order granting asylum status (I-760). Those applying for a work permit while qualifying for immigration status will submit the I-765 with this primary application.

What is the Maximum Validity Period for an EAD?

The USCIS usually issues the Employment Authorization Card for two years or less. The expiration date will be on the card. This is the general scenario. The validity period for an EAD is decided during the initial application, with limits set according to the kind of visa held by the individual.

For example, student visa holders are granted one-year validity to work with an EAD. On the other hand, certain categories of people, for example, those granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and certain others may have EADs automatically extended.

All the Info You Need About EAD Renewal

EAD renewals are easily done online and must be completed three months before expiration. The USCIS approves most EAD renewals. It is possible to apply for a new EAD in case yours is lost, stolen, or damaged somehow, or in case there is some incorrect information.

If you do not receive any updates on your EAD application within the 90-day (30 days for asylum seekers) period, you can apply for interim EAD.

When you need to leave the country while you have an EAD, you must apply for an Advance Parole (AP) document to re-enter the US. AP documents have a 1-year validity, which can easily be extended online.

In case you are awaiting your green card approval, you may have the choice to remain on your H1B or use your EAD to switch status. In this scenario, you can get an indefinite number of renewals as the green card application is pending.

It is a good idea to determine whether you could fulfill your work commitments in the US with an Employment Authorization Document. This is a good option to consider if you only plan to work for a while and then return to your home country, with no intent to gain a permanent residency in the US.

After you read the enclosed information, be diligent about abiding by the terms and conditions mentioned, and keep the expiry date in mind to apply for renewal on time.

TechFetch H1B - For all Your H1B Information Needs

Now that you have a clear idea about what's H4 EAD and its eligibility. If you need any further help or have any queries, visit TechFetch H1B.

**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For updated information, always refer to the USCIS official website.**

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