The United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) changed the admission codes for I-94s of spouses of E and L-1 visa holders. Originally announced on November 11, 2021, the new codes reflect immigration policy changes resulting from a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in the case of Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas.
Now, spouses of E and L-1 visa holders have automatic work authorization notated on their admission stamps from the CBP
How it works
In the past, derivative spouses would need to apply for employment authorization documents (“EAD”) to satisfy an employer’s I-9 requirements for verifying the employee’s identity and legal authorization to work. They first needed to enter the U.S. in E-1, E-2, E-3, or L-2 status and then file an I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to get their EAD. The increasing times for EAD application processing (sometimes six months or more) made it extremely inconvenient, an EAD must be approved before an applicant can begin working.
As of January 31, 2022, L or E dependents who are new arrivals must now use one of the following codes on their Form I-94, with spouses receiving automatic work authorization, negating the need to apply for an EAD.
- E-1S – Spouse of E-1
- E-1Y – Child of E-1
- E-2S – Spouse of E-2
- E-2Y – Child of E-2
- E-3S – Spouse of E-3
- E-3Y – Child of E-3
- L-2S – Spouse of L-1A or B
- L-2Y – Child of L-1A or B
There will also be new guidance to address the procedure to obtain the new endorsement on I-94s issued before January 31, 2022. In the meantime, the CBP will not amend previously issued Form I-94 unless there is a mistake correction. However, a derivative can leave the U.S. and re-enter to get the new code. Those who choose this approach should travel with proof of their marriage relationship to ensure the correct status and code. They would then secure an appointment at the appropriate Consulate or Embassy in the foreign country.
At this time, we should note that the work authorization continues to have an expiration date. Spouses must stay in status, and there is still no premium processing to extend/change nonimmigrant status, so they may need to apply for extensions well before the expiration date.