The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to advance its plan to rescind the H-4 employment authorization document (EAD) program before a March 18, 2019, deadline imposed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Save Jobs USA v. DHS, a lawsuit challenging the legality of the H-4 EAD rule. DHS has been keen to rescind the rule since 2017, in response to President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American Executive Order emphasizing the administration’s focus on protecting American workers. Changes to the H-4 EAD program are not likely to take effect until mid to late 2019.
DHS has not indicated how it plans to phase out the H-4 EAD program; it is not yet known whether DHS will simply stop renewing H-4 EADs after their expiration or if valid EADs will be terminated as of a certain date. With that in mind, eligible H-4 spouses may want to consider renewing their EADs now, if they are set to expire within the next six months, and to evaluate their eligibility for other visa types that would provide work authorization.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to the policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.