In an excellent development, as of January 25, 2023, the U.S. government agreed to resume the process of “bundling” H-4 and L-2 dependent applications, – including I-765 work permission applications, with the H-1B and L-1 petitions if they are filed at the same time. This change is the result of a settlement in the Edakunni v. Mayorkas lawsuit and is effective for two years.
The policy change in 2019 to “decouple” dependents’ applications from the H-1B/L-1 petitions and require biometrics led to extreme delays and lost work authorization for thousands of people legally present in the U.S.
The Shergill v. Mayorkas lawsuit settlement, reached by the same team who filed Edakunni, resulted in the biometrics requirement suspension and recognition that L-2 (and E-1/E-2) spouses are authorized to work without separate permission. The government also agreed to automatically extend H-4 work authorization when filing the I-765 so long as the H-4 status was extended.
What does this mean?
The new settlement means that applicants can expect the H-4/L-2 I-539 applications for all dependents and I-765 employment authorization document (EAD) applications for spouses to be decided at the same time as the H-1B/L-1 if filed together with the H-1B/L-1 petitions. If premium processing is used, the processing time could be 15 days or less.
L-2 spouses are automatically able to work upon “L-2S” approval. Upon the timely filing of an I-765, H-4 spouses with an EAD may continue working for 540 days (for those filing before October 26, 2023, or 180 days thereafter) or until their H-4 status expires, whichever is first. Therefore, premium processing – which carries an extra fee – may not be needed depending on processing times.
The settlement does not change existing regulations regarding the issuance of EADs. It addresses only processing times and procedures.
We appreciate the work of the law firms and individuals who stepped up to litigate this distressing policy and note the power of litigation in resolving immigration processing concerns.
Your Dentons immigration attorney would be pleased to answer any questions.