New USCIS Policy Increases H4 EAD Processing Times
While the latest on every one’s radar about the H4 EAD is regarding its imminent rescission by USCIS, until that happens all current petitioners and prospective applicants are increasingly concerned about the recent increase in processing times. While a 30-day processing time frame was set by Congress in early 2000, it amounts to nearly five to eight months, as it stands today.
The change was noticed at the end of March when the adjudication went from a couple of weeks to more than a few months. Initially, the spouse of a primary H1-B beneficiary could apply for the H4 dependent visa simultaneously with the primary visa. And if that has been done under premium processing, the results would be known within 15 business days. Once this was completed, the H4 dependent could explore work options with an employment authorization document and get it approved in a timely manner. Since March 22, 2019 however, USCIS stopped adjudicating H-4 and H-4 EAD applications concurrently with premium processing H-1B petitions. They process these applications under regular processing channels thereby delaying the simultaneous approvals granted to a single family.
By separating the process altogether, USCIS has added longer wait times to these visa petitioners. Since an EAD is approved only after the approval of the H-4 petition itself and this in turn, is counting on the H1 primary petition being approved in the first place. The new system in place today has added an unforeseeable amount of wait time.
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The frustration is palpable among spouses whose jobs, driver’s license renewals and valid visa statuses depend on the approval or extension of the H4 EADs. This also in turn affects employers and their revenues for they stand losing highly skilled workers under specialty occupations. As of May 31, 2019, USCIS processing times for an H-4 application are as long as eight and a half months. Processing times for the H-4 EAD are currently approximately 5 months.
If you are applying for H4 EAD, follow the H4 EAD application process to determine eligibility and follow accurate paperwork.