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Updates for L-2 and H-4 Visa Holders

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Cross-Border Business and U.S. Immigration, Work Permits for Specialty Occupations - H–1B Visa, U.S. Immigration and Intra-Company Job Transfers - L-1 Visa

Updates for L-2 and H-4 Visa Holders

Nonimmigrant spouses of certain United States L-1 and H-1B visa holders who were unable to renew or obtain work visas will now be able to work legally. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agreed to the L-2 and H-4 visa holder changes in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit after a 3 year backlog and loss of spousal work permits due to policy changes made during the Trump administration.

The lawsuit held that certain L-2 visa and H-4 holders are eligible to work without a separate work permit, as a result of their spouse's work permit. Nonimmigrant visas such as an L-1 visa or H-1B visa allow highly skilled workers to temporarily live and work in the U.S. The policy change to require a separate work permit for nonimmigrant spouses made the U.S. a less attractive option for highly skilled workers that many companies are trying to attract.

Settlement for L-2 and H-4 Visa Holders

Updates for L-2 Spouse Visa Holders
Within 120 days of the effective date of the settlement agreement, USCIS is required to “issue policy guidance that states that L-2 spouses are employment authorized incident to status.”

  • L-2 visa holders will no longer need to apply for an EAD.
    An EAD is an Employment Authorization Document work permit to prove that someone is legally authorized to work in the United States.
  • L-2 visa holders will be authorized to work as a result of their spouse's valid L-1 nonimmigrant visa.

Updates for H-4 Spouse Visa Holders
H-4 spouses who file their Form I-765 EAD renewal applications on time and who continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their EAD will qualify for the automatic extension of their work authorization for a period.

  • Some H-4 visa holders will be eligible for an automatic up to 180 day extension of their EAD.

USCIS has not yet issued guidance to applicants or employers on how the policy change will be implemented. The guidance will clarify the new policy and answer questions about the federal court order.

Do You Want To Apply For A Nonimmigrant U.S. Work Permit?

If you are considering applying for an L visa or H visa to work in the United States, you should consult with an immigration professional familiar with these nonimmigrant and spousal work visas. There is a great deal of documentation required from both the employer and employee, and it is best that a qualified professional provides support along the way. The immigration lawyers at Ackah Business Immigration Law have provided U.S. and Canada immigration legal services for over 20 years.

Contact us today at 403.452.9515 or email us directly.


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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I am so grateful for Ackah Law’s expertise and guidance in helping me secure a work permit and to renew that work permit! In both experiences I was pleasantly surprised how easy and fast it was to complete the application and obtain my work permit. I’m grateful for their kind communication, vast knowledge of immigration issues, and overall support throughout the process and would recommend them to anyone with immigration questions!

- K.V.

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