U.S immigration policy dictates that certain classes of spouses of valid visa holders can receive working authorization in the United States. This is true for spouses who are married to H1-B visa holders as well as other types of visa holders such as the L-1 intra-company transferee.

However, due to backlogs caused by the pandemic, recent headlines have stated that many spouses who are in need of work permits for basic jobs in the U.S. are unable to get them in a timely fashion, causing employers to look elsewhere for filling their staffing needs. This has caused some problems for the U.S. immigration system that is supposed to be supporting legal immigration and allowing spouses to work in the U.S. hassle free.  

As of Wednesday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has won a class action lawsuit that will now affect the timeliness of spouses seeking working authorization. Previously, spouses had to fill out an I-765 application (provided by the USCIS) and were expected to have their applications adjudicated within 30 days (however the backlog has increased this wait time).[1]

The new policy however will allow such spouses to receive an EAD without needing to apply for, or file an I-765. In other words, the spouses of L-1 visa holders will receive work permits automatically. For spouses of H1-B specialty occupation workers, USCIS will now automatically extend their work permits for up to 6 months.[2]

This move, supported by the Biden Administration, is part of the new approach to increase means of legal immigration, and also to get rid of some of the Trump era policies that block, or made extremely difficult, for legal residents to be able to work in the U.S. Trump era tactics used to also require additional Biometrics appointments for such I-765 applicants. This rule has since been scrapped as well.

Work Permits I-765