The United States has allowed providing automatic work authorisation permits to the spouses of the H-1B visa holders. It must be noted that in America, a larger population of H1-B visa holders are Indian IT professionals. With this immigration-friendly move, the Joe Biden administration has made the employment process simpler, especially for Indian-American women.

A US court reached a settlement for a class-action lawsuit, directing the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow up to 180 days auto extension on work authorisation for spouses of L-1 and H1-B visa holders.

L-1 visa is valid for a relatively short amount of time. L-2 visa is used to enter the US by the dependent spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of qualified L-1 visa holders. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is only valid for the duration of the spouse’s L-1 visa.

However, the L-1 spouses will get the extension without applying for it, the H-4 visa will still have to apply for the extension once their employment permit expires.

An H-4 visa is issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders. The H-4 visa is issued to those who have already the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status in the US. Over 90% of H-4 applicants are Indian women.

This year, a group of mainly Indian nationals and lawyers filed a class-action suit challenging the immigration policy that prevented H-4 and L-2 visa holders from working in the US till they don’t have a work permit.

However, as directed by the court, L-2 visa holders will get 180 days auto extension of their work authorisation) or an I-94 expiration date, whichever is shorter). And the H-4 visa holders will get automatic extensions of their H-4 employment authorisation document (EAD) until the expiration of their I-94s or 180 days from the expiration of the prior EAD, whichever is sooner.

The immigration support group has said the latest development has not smoothened the work authorisation permit process for the immigrants. According to them, applicants will have to spend time on the complicated process to get the H4 visas stamped for the 180-day auto extension.

The Obama administration had given work authorisation to certain categories of spouses of H-1B visa holders. So far, more than 90,000 H-4 visa holders, a significant majority of whom are Indian-American women, have received work authorisation.

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