USCIS Provides Updated Work Authorization Documentation Guidance for Certain Nonimmigrant Spouses

In November 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would recognize nonimmigrant spouses of those holding E and L visas1 as employment authorized incident to their valid status. Qualified E and L spouses are no longer required to file for an Employment Authorization Document and are permitted to accept employment in the United States as a corollary to their valid status. The documentary requirements to show proof of work authorization were recently refreshed in a March 18, 2022 USCIS Policy Manual update.

As of January 30, 2022, USCIS and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commenced issuance of new Class of Admission (COA) codes on Forms I-94 to capture the policy guidance recognizing E and L spouses as employment authorized incident to status. As it stands, an unexpired Form I-94 with the code E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, or L-2S, is acceptable to indicate evidence of work authorization under List C for the purposes of Form I-9 verification.  

Beginning on or about April 1, 2022, E and L spouses age 21 and over who have an unexpired Form I-94 issued before January 30, 2022 will receive an official notice by mail. For these individuals, the notice and unexpired Form I-94 reflecting an E-1, E-2, E-3, E-3D, E-3R, or L-2 COA code will serve as proof of employment authorization.  In addition, E or L spouses under 21 years of age or those who do not receive the notice by April 30, 2022 are instructed to email to make a request.

This clarification comes after the initial USCIS guidance released on November 12, 2021 did not include specific List C documentation guidance pertaining to how L and E spouses would complete Form I-9.

See Footnotes

​1 The E and L nonimmigrant visa classifications are designated for temporary workers and consist of the following visa types: E-1 Treaty Trader; E-2 Investor; E-3 Specialty Occupation Worker from Australia; L-1A Intracompany Transferee (Executive/Managerial); and L-1B Intracompany Transferee (Specialized Knowledge).

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.