Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can my spouse or children work when they accompany me to the US?

Foreign nationals usually want to know if their spouse and/or children can work when the family moves to the US because of the principal's job. Unfortunately, the answer is "No' in most cases, which can be very difficult for spouses who are used to having their own career and income in their home country.

The spouse will be eligible for work authorization if s/he is in dependent L-2 or E status. Spouses of people working in the US in status other than L-1 or E are not eligible to work in their dependent status (with limited exceptions for J-2 spouses). They may be eligible for another status, independent of the principal, that would allow them to work. Children in dependent status, except at the final stage of the green card process, cannot get work authorization.

The spouse can get work authorization by filing a Form I-765 with the USCIS. This can be done once s/he has entered the US in E/L status, and takes about 3-4 months for approval. Until the I-765 is approved, the spouse cannot work.

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