USCIS Agrees to Bundle H-4, L-2, and EAD Applications Filed with Principal Spouse’s Petition2 min read
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has entered into a settlement agreement, where the agency has agreed to bundle an application to extend or change to H-4 or L-2 status and, if applicable, an employment authorization document (EAD) applications, if the application/s are filed with the corresponding H1B or L-1 petition of the principal spouse. This primarily indicates that the H-4 and L-2 applications will also be processed using premium service if the H1B or L-1 petition is filed using premium processing.
Background on the Settlement Agreement | EAD Applications
Until 2019, the USCIS would typically provide premium processing service for any application to extend or change nonimmigrant status (form I-539) and application for employment authorization (form I-765) when they were filed in conjunction with the H1B or L-1 petition for a nonimmigrant worker (form I-129) for the principal spouse or parent. This was done as a courtesy to the applicants. However, this benefit was eliminated by the USCIS under the Trump government.
The USCIS agreed to resume the coupling of I-539 and I-765 applications. Which are packaged and properly filed together with the I-129 petition. To settle a class action lawsuit brought by several H-4 and L-2 applicants who had experienced lengthy processing delays.
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This is true regardless of whether a premium processing I-129 petition is requested. It also presumably should apply in situations. In which cases are jointly filed for regular processing and later “upgraded” to premium processing. The agreement’s terms will take effect on 25th January 2023, and they will remain in effect for two years.
The USCIS changed its policies regarding work authorization for L-2 and E-2 spouses in a related litigation that led to the Edakunni settlement. Due to their nonimmigrant status, L-2 and E-2 spouses were granted work authorization. Eliminating the need for them to obtain employment authorization documents in most cases.
Many families in H and L status will benefit greatly from this settlement agreement.