Here’s another edit from “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.
“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that enables people around the world to cross borders and pursue their dreams,” says Silicon Valley immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn. “Whether you’re in people operations, a founder, or looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d love to answer your questions in my next column.”
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I have an L-2 visa as a dependent spouse of my husband’s L-1A.
My EAD (work permit) is due in May: We applied for my visa and EAD extension a few months ago. How long does the current process take?
Is there anything I can do so that my employment is not affected?
— Career focused
I have fantastic news for you and other L-1 spouses, and your employers! As long as your visa remains valid, you are no longer at risk of having your employment interrupted due to delays in obtaining your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Thanks to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy change, it is now easier to obtain work authorization for L-2 spouses of L-1 visa holders, as well as some other categories . As Elon Musk said this week, for anyone who wants to work hard in the US, immigration should be a “no-brainer.”
Extremely high processing times
Over the past two years, EAD processing times have skyrocketed due to a combination of delays caused by the pandemic, funding issues, and USCIS paper processing procedures.
According to the USCIS service center that processed the EAD renewal application (Form I-765), the time ranged from 90 days to more than a year. It is interesting to note that it can take between 7.5 and 14.5 months to process EADs at the California Service Center. At the Texas Service Center, it can take anywhere from two to 13 months.
Lawsuit sparks big policy changes
Last September, a group of spouse dependent visa holders filed a class action lawsuit against the Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees USCIS. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the dependent spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders, many of whom were forced to stop working when USCIS failed to approve and issue new EADs before their current ones expired due to significant processing delays.
The situation was aggravated by the fact that EAD renewals cannot be submitted more than six months before their expiration date.