OIRA’s Proposal to Change H4s and EADs:
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is a United States Government office established for the purpose of overseeing the implementation of government-wide policies and the review of drafted regulations. OIRA recently published a new Agency Rule List for Fall 2017 which includes a number of rules changing the landscape of employment authorization. One of the notable changes is the elimination of the program allowing qualifying H-4 spouses to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD).
On February 25, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule extending the eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence status. The new Agency Rule List for Fall 2017 proposes foregoing this rule and removing from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of alien eligible for employment authorization.
The proposal is only a proposal. In other words, just because the rule concerning H-4 and employment authorization documents is proposed does not mean it will go into effect. There are a number of steps required before the rule is enacted. The public currently has an opportunity to reach out to OIRA to comment on the rule. The process may involve several months or considerably longer. DHS expects to have the notice of the proposed rule out by February 2018.