New Provisions Signed into Law Granting Employment Authorization to Spouses of International Executives and Entrepreneurs
January 24, 2002

Spouses of E and L visa holders are now entitled to obtain employment authorization pursuant to a bill signed into law by President Bush on January 16, 2002. Such spouses were previously only entitled to enter the U.S. to accompany their work visa holding husband or wife but without the right to work (they would need to find their own work visa petitioning employer). With the new bill signed into law, these spouses now have an opportunity to be granted an unrestricted authorization for employment soon after entering the U.S.

In general, E visas are available to citizens of countries with whom the U.S. has a trade and/or investment treaty. To qualify, the individual must document their intention to establish and operate a business in the U.S. by way of a “substantial” investment (E-2 visa), or a business that engages in “substantial” trade with their native country (E-1 visa).

L visas are available to employees of international corporations, large or small, who seek to enter into the U.S. to work in either an executive, managerial, or “specialized knowledge” capacity. To qualify, the individual must have been previously employed in a company outside the U.S. in such a capacity for at least 6 months, and the individual now seeks to enter the U.S. to work in a similar role for a U.S. subsidiary, branch or affiliate of his foreign employer. The requirement of just 6 months employment abroad is a new provision that was also included in the legislation signed into law on January 16, 2002. Prior to the enactment of the new provision, the petitioning U.S. corporation was required to demonstrate that the intending L visa applicant had completed at least 1 year of service with the foreign affiliate corporation.

Progress is Being Made in the Timely Production of Alien Registration Cards

In the past, it was not unheard of for new U.S. lawful permanent residents to wait anywhere form 18 to 24 months from the time they entered the U.S. as immigrants, or were approved as Adjustment of Status applicants, to finally receive their Alien Registration Cards. According to a recent report issued by the INS’ Nebraska Service Center, however, it is taking no more than 9 months for most individual cards to be produced. At present there are approximately 142,000 cards in the production queue nationwide, and serious initiatives to reduce the production backlog have been implemented. And it is the INS’ hope to have the process cut down to the point where card production takes no more than 5 months.

If you have faced a significant delay in receiving your card, such as more than 18 months, it is likely one of the following factors have created an obstacle to the card’s production or delivery: 1) applicant changed addresses and any change of address request submitted never reached the appropriate INS section, 2) a defect in the INS paperwork for the production of the card, such as a smudged fingerprint or a non-conforming or lost photograph. If it is the case that you have been waiting more than 18 moths for your Alien Registration Card to arrive it is advisable that you visit you nearest INS office and investigate the status of the processing of your card. In the interim, the INS will be able to stamp your passport with a confirmation of your status as a permanent resident and your eligibility to work in the U.S. and travel internationally.

Copyright © 2002-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois