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H4, J2, L2 EAD Automatic (Employment Authorization Document) Extension: 180 or 540 Days?

H4 EAD Automatic Extension

The automatic extension period for H4 and L2 EADs is currently back to 540 days for certain applicants who timely filed their I-765 applications and have valid I-94s. J2 EADs do not qualify for this extension.

At times, USCIS extends the automatic extension period for certain EAD renewal applicants from 180 to 540 days to assist applicants and manage the application backlog. This applies to renewal applications only.

Eligible Categories

  • Applicants who timely and properly filed their Form I-765 applications on or after Oct. 27, 2023, if the application is still pending on April 8, 2024.

  • Applicants who timely and properly file their Form I-765 application on or after April 8, 2024, and on or before Sept. 30, 2025.

Refer to this for the latest updates: USCIS

Table of Contents: EAD Automatic Extension

What is Automatic EAD Extension?

USCIS introduced a change in May 2022, implementing a temporary rule that significantly extends the automatic extension period for employment authorization and/or EADs. This adjustment now allows certain EAD categories to enjoy an extended period of up to 540 days, compared to the previous 180 days.

This automatic EAD extension for 540 days specifically applies to eligible EAD renewal applicants only within specific eligible categories. The most common categories include:

  • J2 EAD applicants, category (c)(5), do not qualify for this extension.

  • H4 EAD applicants, category (c)(26), do qualify for this extension.

  • L2 EAD applicants, category (a)(18) with unexpired I-94, do qualify for this extension.

  • Pending I-485 applicants, green card EAD category (c)(9), do qualify for this extension.

Note that these days, L2 visa holders do not need an EAD to work; their I-94 with L2S status is sufficient proof of employment authorization. Read more.

EAD Automatic Extension Categories

The automatic EAD extension 540 days rule applies to the people falling under specific categories, including A03, A05, A07, A08, A10, A17, A18, C08, C09, C10, C16, C20, C22, C24, C26, C31, and A12 or C19.

This means that individuals in these categories may benefit from an automatic EAD extension for up to 540 days under the temporary rule.

  • (a)(3): Refugee

  • (a)(5): Asylee

  • (a)(7): N-8 or N-9

  • (a)(8): Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau

  • (a)(10): Withholding of Deportation or Removal Granted

  • (a)(12): Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Granted

  • (a)(17): Spouse of principal E nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing E (including E-1S, E-2S, and E-3S) nonimmigrant status

  • (a)(18): Spouse of principal L-1 Nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing L-2 (including L-2S) nonimmigrant status

  • (c)(8): Asylum Application Pending

  • (c)(9): Pending Adjustment of Status under Section 245 of the Act

  • (c)(10): Suspension of Deportation Applicants (filed before April 1, 1997), Cancellation of Removal Applicants, Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Applicants Under NACARA

  • (c)(16): Creation of Record (Adjustment Based on Continuous Residence Since January 1, 1972)

  • (c)(19): Pending initial application for TPS where USCIS determines the applicant is prima facie eligible for TPS and can receive an EAD as a “temporary treatment benefit”

  • (c)(20): Section 210 Legalization (pending I-700)

  • (c)(22): Section 245A Legalization (pending I-687)

  • (c)(24): LIFE Legalization

  • (c)(26): Spouses of certain H-1B principal nonimmigrants with an unexpired I-94 showing H-4 nonimmigrant status

  • (c)(31): VAWA Self-Petitioners

Documents Required for Automatic Extension

Acceptable documents for proof of the automatic extension of employment authorization and/or EAD validity include:

  • Form I-797C receipt notice referencing the 180-day extension.

  • Existing EAD card.

  • Unexpired Form I-94 (if applicable), particularly for H-4, E, or L-2 dependent spouses, including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S class of admission codes.

This combination of documents serves as sufficient proof of an up to 540-day automatic extension.

FAQs on EAD Automatic Extension

Do I automatically qualify for an automatic extension if my H4 EAD expires?

No, you don't automatically qualify for an automatic extension. You are eligible for an automatic extension if you have filed an I-765 application for EAD renewal before your EAD expires.

The receipt notice will state that if you do not receive the new EAD before the expiry date, the validity of your current EAD automatically extends by 180 days. So check your I-797, notice of action receipt notice.

Is J2 EAD applicable for a 180 or 540-day automatic extension?

No. J2 EAD category which is (c)(5) does not qualify for EAD automatic extension.

Can I work if the expired H4 EAD renewal is in process?

You can work if you qualify for the automatic extension and have a valid I-94. However, if your I-94 is expired, you cannot work.

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