Lawsuit Gives H-1B, L-1 Visa Holders’ Spouses Automatic Extensions

Spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders will be granted an automatic extension on their work authorizations. That’s the result of a new settlement for a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in September.

That lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), argued that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had unlawfully delayed the processing of those spouses’ visa applications. Under the terms of the settlement, spouses with an L-2 will have automatic work authorization, while spouses with an H-4 will receive automatic work-permit extensions.

According to The Wall Street Journal, these policy changes will impact “tens of thousands of immigrants” by removing their applications from the massive USCIS backlog. 

Since its beginning, the Biden administration has pushed for legislation that would give work privileges to the spouses and dependents of H-1B visa workers. For example, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which aims to reform the entire immigration system, features language that would provide “dependents of H-1B visa holders [with] work authorization” (according to the legislation’s fact sheet). 

The Biden administration’s position is a wholesale reversal of visa-spouse policy under Trump. The Trump administration spent years trying to kill the H-4 EAD, which allows spouses (but not other dependents) of H-1B workers to find jobs of their own. That push led to some brutal court fights

Critics argue that programs such as the H-4 take jobs away from American citizens. Advocates suggest that those with H-4 visas, by being allowed to work, contribute to the American economy; last year, the Cato Institute argued that the “employment authorization has also allowed workers to launch businesses that employ tens of thousands of Americans.”

H-1B critics and advocates alike are wondering whether Biden will take other, bigger steps to revamp the H-1B itself. The administration’s first regulatory agenda, published over the summer, hinted at an intention to “modernize” H-1B requirements. But aside from a fee increase, it’s still an open question about what form that “modernization” will take.  

6 Responses to “Lawsuit Gives H-1B, L-1 Visa Holders’ Spouses Automatic Extensions”

  1. The spouse job is something people seem to forget when it comes to H1B. 2 jobs are lost from Americans, not 1 job. It’s more invasive than you think. Many of the spouses are also in IT. I don’t think the American government really cares about this issue.

  2. Another MASSIVE betrayal of American STEM by their own über corrupt .gov and the filth known as lawyers creating Little US HadjiLand brown curry stink land and traitor Kolakowski gleefully reporting what turns out to be crap that has a half-life of 15 minutes … like his writing “talent”.

    • Abdul Debulbulemir

      I’m not quite sure I understand your position, could you be more specific please?

      BTW it’s spelt “Hajji”, and most don’t eat curry. I assume you are confusing Arabs with Hindus.

  3. The spousal work program, as designed, is an absolute travesty. The permits are provided without any investigation of actual need, check for alternative citizen or green card holder resources, with material no wage regulations (beyond the local / state minimum — <$8.xx an hour in Alabama), and no impact on quotas. Effectively, up to twice as many workers are being allowed to flood the market at the lowest of wages. A senior data scientist on h-4 with a decade of experience and a phd can lawfully be paid under $8.00 an hour and Biden and the left strongly support such low wages and labor exploitation. The left are complete hypocrites when it comes to claims about caring about immigrants and labor.

  4. I see spouses on EAD permits on a daily basis at work & they routinely have a lower understanding of business or the technical subject matter.
    The only reason they are getting hired is that they justify same pay-outs from clients while being paid a fraction of qualified tech workforce salaries by subcon companies, even a fraction of their own spouses in same EXACT delivery role.