DHS to Streamline Adjudication of Extension of Status, Change of Status, and Work Authorization Applications for Spouses and Children of Certain Visa Holders

On January 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reached a settlement in Edakunni v. Mayorkas. As a result of the settlement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has agreed to resume its policy of adjudicating extension of status, change of status, and employment authorization applications filed by spouses and children of L-1 and H-1B nonimmigrant visa holders along with the petition filed on behalf of the principal applicant so long as they are concurrently and properly filed.  Specifically, USCIS will review Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for H-4 and L-2 dependent spouses and children at the same time it considers the underlying Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for the corresponding principal applicant when they are all concurrently and properly filed.

Prior to 2019, USCIS routinely adjudicated I-539 and I-765 applications concurrently with a principal applicant’s I-129 petition as a courtesy when the applications were properly filed at the same time. As a result of ongoing policy changes at the time, USCIS stopped bundling adjudication and each petition and application was adjudicated independently. The unbundling of adjudication added significant processing delays as it required additional biometrics from the I-539 and I-765 applicants, making it difficult for these applicants to be able to maintain their employment as the lengthy delays caused a lapse in work authorization. 

Based on the settlement, effective January 25, 2023, USCIS has reverted to its prior policy of bundling the adjudication of the Form I-539 and the Form I-765 for H-4 and L-2 dependent applicants along with the underlying Form I-129 when those forms are properly filed together, regardless of whether they are filed under standard or premium processing. 

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.