When we were first able to file EADs for H-4 dependents starting in May 2015, many applicants had a lot of questions that we did not necessarily have answers for since the regulation was brand new. Three months in, we have a little more information about what to expect in terms of processing timelines. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about H-4 EADs (with answers!):
Good news here! A few months ago, the H-4 COS applications were taking quite some time to be adjudicated – many months, according to USCIS. As of the end of August 2015, the processing time at both the Vermont and California Service Centers is reported to be about 2.5 months, and that is roughly what we are seeing in practice as well. Of course this processing time is always subject to change, and reported times from USCIS are never guaranteed, but merely a guide.
Anything is possible! The regulations and guidance regarding the H-4 EADs were very clear that the 90 day timeframe that USCIS has to process the I-765 (application for employment authorization) begins after the H-4 COS is approved. That being said, in practice we have seen the EAD approved very soon after the COS is approved, almost concurrently in some cases. However, keep in mind that this is not guaranteed, and in all cases USCIS has up to 90 days (though it sometimes takes longer) to process the I-765.
If your COS or EAD are pending beyond posted processing times, it is often possible to place a service request with USCIS. This can be done by phone or online. Note that it is not possible to place a service request if the application is still within the posted processing times (posted on the USCIS website).
This is not a new development, but is still worth noting: If a person files a change of status application (to H-4 or any other status) and then leaves the US, the application will be deemed abandoned and denied. Therefore if you have international travel plans and need to file the COS as well, it is advisable to consult with a qualified immigration attorney to form a strategy that best suits your goals and plans.
For more information on EADs for H-4s, please click here.
Do you need assistance with an H-4 EAD or other employment-based or family-based immigration matter? Please contact our office today at 804-396-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we are an immigration law firm located in Richmond, VA, we serve clients throughout the US. We look forward to hearing from you!