The spouses of US L1 visa holders will be made exempt from having to apply for work authorization. Following a recent lawsuit, which contests a policy that forces L2 visa holders to apply separately for a work permit, it seems that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to scrap the requirement for an employment authorization document (EAD).
L2 visa holders currently require an EAD to be eligible for job opportunities or self-employment, but US immigration campaigners claim that this leaves many spouses of L1 visa holders at a disadvantage in the jobs market.
The lawsuit filed against USCIS argued that L2 visa holders should be eligible for employment ‘incident to status’ – meaning that they should be eligible to work in the US without the need for a separate work permit application.
However, it currently remains that USCIS demands L2 visa holders to apply for a work permit, which has often resulted in people losing their jobs because of lengthy adjudication times spanning 10 – 15 months.
A legal representative for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said: “We have hammered out the terms of the settlement agreement.”
“In response to our lawsuit (Shergill v Mayorkas) USCIS will change its policy. L2 visa holders will no longer have to apply for an EAD. Meanwhile, some H4 visa holders will be eligible for an auto extension of their EAD if they had valid US immigration status that lasted longer than the EAD,” the legal representative added.
The majority of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against USCIS are of Indian descent and claim that the US immigration agency has violated the law by leaving hundreds out of work because of lengthy processing times for EADs.
As a result, many of the plaintiffs are facing financial hardship. As part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have asked for a preliminary injunction.
The lawsuit stated: “The court has the power to force USCIS to end the suffering of the plaintiffs and ensure that the law is complied with.”
Filed with the Western District Court of Washington, the lawsuit goes on to say: “USCIS has stripped L2 visa holders of a statutory right to work in the US and revoked their right to automatically extend their employment authorization.”
According to the lawsuit, USCIS is ‘taking away highly educated and skilled workers from their employers at a time when America is in the grip of a labor shortage’.
Employers hunt immigrant talent
Widespread reports seemingly echo the sentiments of the lawsuit, indicating that US employers are actively hunting immigrant talent amid skills shortages.
According to a study by the New American Economy ‘a more nuanced and responsive policy around employment-based immigration could be one way to help the US more quickly and more robustly bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and future economic disruptions and crises’.
The study came following reports of record job openings in the US, which coincide with persistent unemployment, suggesting a potential mismatch between demand for labor and supply.
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