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by Jeffrey Ehrenpreis

An important recent change in the immigration regulations allows spouses of certain individuals in H-1B temporary work permit status to work in the United States.
The H-1B is one of the most common types of U.S. temporary work permits. Historically, the immigration status issued to spouses of H1-B work permit holders (known as an H-4) did not allow for work permission, thus restricting the spouse’s ability to work in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), though, now allows work permission for H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B work permit holders who have started the green card process. While the green card allows permanent residence and work permission in the U.S., it can often take longer to obtain than a temporary work permit. Therefore, many individuals first obtain a temporary work permit (such as the H-1B) while also pursuing the green card. 

Those individuals eligible for work permission while in H-4 status include H-4 dependent spouses whose H-1B work permit holding spouse:

  • has an approved Form I-140 (which is typically the second step of the green card process); or

  • has extended the H-1B beyond the six-year limit based on the first step of the green card being filed at least 365 days prior to the end of the sixth year of H-1B status (it does not require that any step of the green card be approved).

Work permission while in H-4 status is not granted automatically. The H-4 spouse must file to obtain the work permission with USCIS, and authorization typically takes a period of approximately two to three months to obtain. Once granted, though, the work permission that the H-4 spouse obtains is unrestricted, meaning the spouse is not limited to a specific employer, nor is self-employment or starting one’s own business prohibited.
This recent change provides an additional incentive to file for the green card case as soon as possible as even filing the green card case can expedite a spouse’s ability to obtain work permission.
One of the most established firms practicing exclusively in the area of immigration law, our firm has successfully helped our clients obtain temporary work permits, green cards, and citizenship for generations. If you are in H-1B status and have started a green card process, please contact us for help obtaining your spouse’s work permission. Please also contact us to begin the green card process or for any questions regarding qualification for H-4 work permission or other immigration matters.

For any questions regarding regulations allowing for H-1B spouse work permission, please contact the undersigned.




Jeffrey Ehrenpreis 

Ehrenpreis Immigration Law 

1880 Century Park East, Suite 550 

Los Angeles, CA 90067 

Phone: (310) 553-6600 



This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or to have created an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact our office directly. 

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