United States employers should take note of the fact that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has issued new Form I-94 codes that may affect dependent spouses. Specifically, CBP’s new codes allow E and L dependent spouses that entered the United States after the date of January 31, 2022 without a separate employment authorization document for the purpose of working.
It is the responsibility of employers to stay current with changes in the Form I-94 as they could negatively impact their compliance efforts if not correctly abided by. With the number of changes that have been recently implemented regarding U.S. hiring practices, employers must find an appropriate and reliable channel for monitoring and applying these changes. For many, digital I-9 compliance software is helping to more effectively bridge that gap.
What CBP’s New Form I-94 Codes Mean for Families and Employment
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s notice about new Form I-94 codes helps ease the burden of visa holder spouses intending to work in the United States from having to make additional applications for obtaining necessary work documents.
This change for E and L dependent spouses is welcomed, especially by those who have experienced gaps in employment authorization due to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services backlogs and resulting delays in the adjudication of Forms I-765. These gaps have proven to be a headache for both the spouses and their U.S. employers.
While this is a relief for many visa holder spouses, it does not change employment circumstances for their children. The new codes are intended for E and L spouses, but dependent children’s statuses will not change and they will remain ineligible for work.
What Employers Need to Know About CBP’s New Form I-94 Codes
While CBP’s new Form I-94 admission codes will affect dependent spouse of visa holders, it will also impact human resources and employment offices in charge of complying with federal hiring practices.
A breakdown of the new Form I-94 admission codes are as follows:
- Codes are assigned and issued to a spouse or dependent entering the United States either on or after January 31, 2022. The new code is only necessary for those individuals who want to work but do not have current or pending employment authorization documents (EADs).
- E or L dependent spouses that entered the United States before January 31, 2022 will need to depart and re-enter the country again with a valid E-1, E-2, E-3, or L-2 derivative visa to obtain a new Form I-94 code. Please note a new admission code cannot be obtained through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
When it comes to how these new I-94 admission codes can affect completing the Form I-9, here are the two main things employers need to know:
- A Form I-94 that is issued to an E or L dependent spouse admitted to the United States after January 31, 2022 is now considered sufficient in terms of establishing Form I-9 employment eligibility.
- E or L dependent spouses admitted to the U.S. before January 31, 2022 cannot use the Form I-94 as sufficient in determining Form I-9 employment eligibility. For valid work authorization, these individuals would require a valid Form I-94 in combination with a valid employment authorization document or proof of a timely filed employment authorization document extension.
What This Means for Pending EAD Renewal Filings for E and L Dependent Spouses
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that E and L dependent spouses of visa holders will continue to qualify for automatic extension of employment authorization and can keep working in the United States only if they filed a timely employment authorization document renewal application and have a valid derivative nonimmigrant E or L status as proved by an unexpired Form I-94.
The timeframe for work authorization of dependent spouses who qualify for automatic extension of their employment authorization document is whichever of the dates below is the earliest:
- The end date of their I-94 record
- The approval or denial of the employment authorization document renewal application
- 180 days from the date of the expired employment authorization document
Once approved, the pending extensions of a dependent spouse’s status should reflect the new Form I-94 admission codes.
How Digital I-9 Compliance Software Can Help
Digital I-9 compliance software is designed to streamline the hiring process while minimizing common mistakes. Reputable software offerings should be created by experts in employment verification who intimately understand the complexities of Form I-9 compliance, including the ever-changing laws surrounding the form.
Part of the job of digital I-9 compliance software is to adjust to incorporate new federal laws and mandates such as the CBP’s new Form I-94 codes that may affect dependent spouses. This can give employers more peace of mind that they are meeting compliance regulations in real time.
For clarification on CBP’s new Form I-94 codes that may affect dependent spouses or how that will affect employers and the Form I-9 process, consider how enlisting digital I-9 compliance software could help and contact a trusted provider today.