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New documentation rules help with E and L spouses’ employment authorization

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2022 | Employment Immigration Visas, Family Immigration Visas

We recently wrote that the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) changed the admission codes for the I-94s of spouses of E and L visa holders. This change automatically authorizes immigrant spouses of valid E and L visa holders to work legally. The CBP announcement was quickly followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which also acknowledged that E and L spouses could seek legal employment.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) then modified designations on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94) to distinguish the spouses separately from their children. This change was because the I-94 now evidences employment authorization. This differentiation between spouses and children went into effect immediately and superseded all previous directions on this topic.

Published in Volume 10 of the USCIS Policy Manuel, this change will be applied as E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S on the unexpired Form I-94.

What about those with older but still unexpired I-94s?

The USCIS and the CBP instituted this change on January 30, 2022. Those notated before that date with the old status will receive a notice letter from the USCIS regarding the COA codes. The old code with the new letter will be sufficient proof that spouses have employment authorization. This change will also add certain spouses previously omitted from permission to work.