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USCIS Updates Employment Authorization Documentation for Certain E and L Nonimmigrant Spouses


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its guidance in its Policy Manual concerning evidence of employment authorization for certain E and L nonimmigrant spouses. This guidance addresses the type of documentation that these spouses may use to show employment authorization based on their nonimmigrant status.

The new policy guidance stems from the USCIS announcement on November 12, 2021, that they would consider E and L spouses to have employment authorization based on their valid E or L nonimmigrant status. In response, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added new Class of Admission (COA) codes or the designations that nonimmigrants receive when they enter the country to distinguish between E and L spouses and children. The new codes include E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S.

On January 30, 2022, USCIS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began to issue Forms I-94 that contain the new codes. Therefore, if an E or L spouse has a valid Form I-94 containing one of the new codes, it is an acceptable form of documentation to use as evidence of employment authorization under List C of Form I-9.

If an E or L spouse is 21 or older and has a valid Form I-94 issued before January 20, 2022, USCIS should have mailed the spouse a notice around April 1, 2022. This notice and the spouse’s valid Form I-94, which should reflect a COA Code of E-1, E-2, E-3D, E-3R, or L-2, will serve as evidence of employment authorization.

However, if an E or L spouse is under age 21 or has not received a notice by April 30, 2022, the spouse should email E-L-married-U21@uscis.dhs.gov to request a notice.

USCIS will issue notices only to individuals listed as qualifying E or L spouses on Forms I-539 approved by USCIS. If spouses received their Forms I-94 from CBP, they should visit www.cbp.gov for more information.

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