Update on Employment Authorization for E and L Spouses
On November 12, 2021, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that spouses of nonimmigrants in the E-1, E-2, E-3, and L-1 status did not have to file for separate employment authorization documents to prove that they were eligible to work in the United States. Their status alone was sufficient. That said, non-spouse dependents of such nonimmigrants remained unauthorized to work. The practical question then was how the spouses would be able to prove to prospective employers their employment authorization.
On January 30, 2022, USCIS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency that handles the admission of nonimmigrants into the US at the border and airports, started to issue Forms I-94 with new codes distinguishing between spouses and non-spouses of E-1, E-2, E-3, and L-1 nonimmigrants which could be used as proof of their employment authorization.
What remained unanswered was what would be done for those who entered the US prior to January 30, 2022. Would CBP allow these individuals to obtain such revised Forms I-94 by going to the border and airports, without traveling abroad and reentering the US? The official announcement was that CBP would not update Forms I-94.
As of this Friday, March 18, 2022, USCIS announced that starting April 1, 2022, USCIS will be sending individuals who are over the age of 21 and who are spouses of E-1, E-2, E-3, and L-1 nonimmigrants notices that reflect the new codes as proof of employment authorization. If an eligible individual does not receive the notice by April 30, 2022, they can contact the USCIS by emailing E-L-married-U21@uscis.dhs.gov These notices will only go to those who had previously filed a Form I-539 that indicated that they were the spouses of E-1, E-2, E-3, or L-1 nonimmigrants. For those who have not ever filed a Form I-539, stay tuned for further updates!
Please note that the above information has been provided for educational purposes only. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney to see how this may apply to your specific circumstances.