U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published an update on its website (www.uscis.gov) concerning eligibility and procedures for employment authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses. The update provides information on evidence which will be accepted to establish eligibility, standalone applications v. combined applications (e.g. I-539 extension, I-129 extension), validity period, filing locations, and other such details.
The cost of the Employment Authorization Document application is $380.
Notably, the EAD validity will “likely be the same date as the expiration date on your most recent I-94 indicating your H-4 nonimmigrant status.”
Employers may want to identify the need for spousal work authorization up front, and address issues of timing and costs. From a timing perspective, it will probably be most efficient to file these applications at the time of the I-129 renewal for the primary H-1B holder, so that I-94 and EAD validity periods match up, without an gaps in employment authorization periods.
Also, in light of the availability of the benefit, it may behoove all to file H-1B petitions with such related EAD applications as early as possible.