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USCIS issues temporary relaxation for H-1B spouses waiting for work authorization cards

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Spouses of H-1B workers, a few of whom are waiting for a few months to get their employment authorization document (EAD) cards. It would now be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Lack of a valid EAD card won’t result in a job loss. US employers can rely on a notice of approval issued to such people.

Prior the standards required that employers could only accept the gave EAD card as proof of work authorization. Also, the notification of approval given for an initial application or an application for renewal of an EAD was not sufficient.

However, inordinate printing delays in the issue of EAD cards and settlement of a class-action lawsuit. Initiated by an Indian citizen has led the US immigration agency. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to present this temporary relaxation.

USCIS issues relaxation for H-1B spouses waiting for work authorization cards

Moreover, this is a significant accommodation for employers who no longer need to wait many months for the creation of a plastic card. To legally employ an authorized, critical foreign worker. Points out Mitchell Wexler, a California-based partner with Fragomen, a global immigration law office.

TOI, in some of its releases dated July 24, had brought up the fears of H-4 visa holders (viz: spouses of H-1B workers). Moreover, the delays in acquiring EAD cards would result in job termination. Almost a lakh Indian spouses (where the primarily H-1B visa holder is on track for a green card), are right now authorized to work in the US.

An EAD extension can be applied for just 180 days before the expiry of the current card. Typically, it took USCIS 90 days to process the application. Post which the EAD card was generally mailed within 48 hours. Recently the waiting period ran into a few months.

[As H-1B employees return to their workplace, compliance obligations arise]

“Even, as I work in the health sector (largely protected from overall job losses), the delay in giving EADs gave me restless nights. When my card tenure ran out, I could no longer be employed,” clarifies an H-4 visa holder.

Under the temporary relaxation that has been declared. US employers might accept Form 1-797 (which is a notification of approval of the EAD application). Gave such notification has been given after 1st December 2019. However, by December 1, 2020, the employers are needed to reverify employees who introduced this form as proof.

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