EAD Cards for E & L Spouses Update

Some great news to share as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) keeps its promise to spouses of E, L-1A, and L-1B visa holders. We previously told you about upcoming changes to Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), and those changes are now in effect as of January 31, 2022. These policy changes are the result of a class-action lawsuit and replace the previous policy that had been in place since 2002.

So, what do the changes mean?

E-1, E-2 & E-3 Spouses

When spouses of E visa holders enter the U.S., they will receive a Form I-94 which indicates E1S, E2S, or E3S (indicating they are the spouse of an E-1, E-2, or E-3 visa holder). This form, issued by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), now stands as validation of the holder’s authorized employment status. As long as the Form I-94 is valid, the individual is authorized to continue working in the US. Individuals with this form are no longer required to apply for an EAD in order to work.

It’s important to note these changes apply to anyone who enters the US on or after January 31, 2022. If the spouse of an E visa holder is already in the U.S., they will be required to travel internationally and re-enter the US in order to receive the updated Form I-94. It’s imperative that you consider all the risks and accommodations for international travel as a non-citizen. Do not travel purely for the sake of getting the updated form.

L-2 Spouses

The same rules now apply to spouses of L-1A or L-1B visa holders, as well. This means you will no longer have to apply for an EAD card in order to work in the US as long as you have received the updated Form I-94. Your Form should have an L-2S designation, indicating your status.

Again, as mentioned above, if you are already in the US or were prior to January 31, 2022, you will need to travel internationally and re-enter the US in order to receive the updated Form I-94.

Those Who Already Have an Unexpired EAD

If you have a valid EAD, you may continue to work under the EAD card you already have. If you need to extend the EAD card due to an upcoming expiration, and you do not have a Form I-94 with the spousal designation, as long as your Form I-94 is valid and the EAD card is unexpired when you file the extension, the EAD card validity is automatically extended up to 540 days or the expiration date of your Form I-94, whichever is earlier.

Those Who do Not Intend to Work

It’s important to note, an EAD or the updated Form I-94 are only relevant to those who wish to work under this status. If you do not intend to work, a Form I-94 Form without a spousal designation will be sufficient to maintain your status in the US until its expiration.

Make Sure Your Status is Up to Date

While these new changes are an exciting development for families, it’s important to have peace of mind about your status. At Valvo & Associates, we know immigration law and what it will take to protect your status in the US and your ability to work here. We are your go-to for all legal immigration matters. Contact us today for attorneys who will serve, lead, and support your right to live, work, and thrive in the United States.

By Brandon Valvo