New Legal Settlement Should Provide Relief to H-4 and L-2 Dependents
On January 19, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security reached a Settlement Agreement in Edakunni v. Mayorkas. The Agreement requires United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization at the same time for H-4 and L-2 dependents when these forms are filed with the underlying Form I-129 nonimmigrant petition. The new change will go in effect on January 25, 2023, and will remain in effect for two years after the effective date.
In March of 2019, USCIS stopped their long-held prior practice of bundling the adjudication of H-4, L-2 and EAD petitions with their accompanying H-1B and L petitions. The 2019 policy change, which Edakunni challenged, led to long processing times, significant delays in the adjudication of employment authorization applications and significant job loss.
In order for the Form I-539 and Form I-765 to be considered properly filed together, the forms must be packaged together and filed at the same time and in the same location as the Form I-129. Provided that the forms are properly filed together, USCIS will process the forms concurrently under both standard and premium processing. This settlement will provide welcome relief to the H-4 and L-2 dependents who suffered due to the 2019 policy change. Going forward, we can expect a smoother adjudication process for H-4 and L-2 dependents as USCIS returns to the bundling applications.