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CBP Begins Issuing New I-94 Designations for L-2 and E Dependent Spouses Granting Employment Authorization Incident to Status

On January 31, 2022, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began issuing I-94 forms with new designations for L-2 and E visa dependents. The new designations for L-2 and E dependent spouses specifically will serve as evidence that holders are authorized to be employed based on their nonimmigrant status. This is welcome news as previously, L-2 and E dependent spouses were required to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to be authorized to work.

These changes are a result of the November 10, 2021 settlement of a class action litigation brought by H-4 and L-2 spouses suffering from long-delayed USCIS processing times for EAD applications and the resulting loss in work authorization. Please see our November 23, 2021 alert for further information.

Dependents of E or L visa holders will now be admitted in one of the following categories:

E-1S – Spouse of E-1

E-1Y – Child of E-1

E-2S – Spouse of E-2

E-2Y – Child of E-2

E-3S – Spouse of E-3

E-3Y – Child of E-3

L-2S – Spouse of L-1A or B

L-2Y – Child of L-1A or B

Individuals entering the U.S. on or after January 31, 2022 with the designation for L or E dependent spouses (E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, or L-2S) on their I-94 are now eligible to work without applying for a separate EAD.

E and L dependent spouses who entered the U.S. prior to January 31, 2022 and are currently in the U.S. will be required to travel internationally and re-enter the U.S. in order for a new I-94 to be issued with the new designation.

The new annotation is only required for those who wish to work and do not already have an EAD or a pending EAD. At this time, a Form I-94 annotated without the spousal designation is not sufficient evidence of employment authorization for Form I-9, and a valid EAD is required for continued work authorization. For L and E dependent spouses who do not wish to work, the old I-94 and designations suffice as proof of maintenance of status and ability to continue to remain in the U.S. until the expiration of the I-94 form.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact your Mintz Immigration attorney.


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Angel Feng

Special Counsel

Angel Feng is a Mintz Special Counsel whose practice focuses on immigration matters. She counsels corporations and their employees on the processing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions, including H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, E-3, TN, P-1, O-1, E-1, E-2, PERM, EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3.

Shannon N. Parker

Practice Group Associate

Shannon N. Parker is a Mintz immigration attorney who manages employment-based visa matters for clients in a variety of industries, including the high tech and health care sectors.

John F. Quill

Member / Chair, Immigration Practice

John’s practice encompasses all aspects of immigration and nationality law. John draws on over two decades of experience to help companies and their employees obtain nonimmigrant visas, including B, E, H, J, L, O, and TN visas. He also handles applications for PERM labor certification; extraordinary ability, outstanding researcher, and national interest waiver petitions; adjustment of status procedures; consular processing; and naturalization.