By Kelly Cobb
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, backlogs for immigration benefits have been at an all-time high, with some benefits—such as the L-2 Spousal EAD—taking up to 12 months or longer.
To address this backlog, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would consider L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to their valid L-2 status. This was welcomed news, especially as the announcement also confirmed that Employment Authorization Documents (“EAD card”) would also no longer be required for spouses to work. However, in its announcement, USCIS failed to address how employers should complete Form I-9 (a form required by all U.S. employers to verify work authorization) for L-2 spouses without a valid EAD card.
Recently, a partial remedy was implemented by adding an “S” annotation to all I-94s issued upon entry after January 31, 2022, which would signify that work authorization would be granted regardless of whether those dependents received a valid work authorization or not. However, the “S” annotation was generally only issued when L-2 spouses traveled internationally and entered the U.S. This left those L-2 spouses who did not travel without remedy. Now, immigration officials have announced that it has added the “S” annotation to those spousal L-2 I-94 in its database. Updated I-94s may now be downloaded from the US CBP website.
Stay tuned for potential updates from Jackson Walker. For questions about how you or your business could potentially be impacted, please contact an attorney in Jackson Walker’s Business Immigration & Compliance practice.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For additional assistance related to L-2 spousal work authorization, please contact an attorney in Jackson Walker’s Business Immigration & Compliance practice.