DHS Begins Signifying Automatic Work Authorization for E and L Spouses with Use of a New Admission Code
In November 2021 DHS announced a new policy recognizing E and L dependent spouses as having employment authorized incident to their status, meaning they do not need to apply for a separate employment authorization document (“EAD”). In a highly anticipated development, DHS has revealed that as of January 31, 2022 the E and L dependent spouses will have a special code noted on their I-94: Spouse of E-1 (E-1S), Spouse of E-2 (E-2S), Spouse of E-3 (E-3S), and Spouse of L-1A or B (L-2S). This new code signifies the automatic employment authorization associated with the statuses of E and L dependent spouses.
This new code designation will be utilized as of January 31, 2022 and only applicable to new arrivals. DHS will not be reissuing I-94s for individuals already present in the U.S. with a valid I-94. If someone already inside the U.S wishes to have the new designation, they will be required to depart the U.S and re-enter. However, DHS recently noted that regardless of a notation on the I-94, USCIS recognizes E and L spouses are authorized to work incident to status, and any valid I-94 is considered valid for work authorization. While DHS indicated this change in policy has been added to its I-9 and E-Verify sites, so far that change has not been confirmed. The change in policy is now reflected in the USCIS Policy Manual.