Navigating Spousal Employment in the U.S.: A Guide for E, L-2, H-4, and Adjustment EADs

Share this on:

Many spouses can legally work in the US depending on their visa type. This blog explains the options for E spouses, L-2 spouses, H-4 visa holders with work permits (EADs), and those with Adjustment of Status EADs.

E Spouses

E-visas are commonly used by treaty traders (E-1), treaty investors (E-2), and Australian specialty occupation workers (E-3). Spouses of E visa holders are eligible to apply for work permits in the US, allowing them to work without restrictions.

Steps involved:

  1. File Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. Upon approval, the spouse can start working immediately.

L-2 Spouses

L-2 visas are granted to spouses and dependent children of L-1 intracompany transferees in managerial positions or with specialized knowledge. L-2 spouses can apply for employment authorization to work for any employer in the country.

Steps involved:

  1. File Form I-765 with USCIS.
  2. Once approved, the L-2 spouse can legally work in the U.S.

H-4 EADs

H-4 visas are issued to spouses and dependent children of H-1B visa holders, who are professionals in specialty occupations. The H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) program, introduced in 2015, allows eligible H-4 spouses to work in the U.S. However, not all H-4 visa holders are eligible for work authorization. Only those whose H-1B spouses have an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or have been granted H-1B status for over six years due to pending Green Card applications can apply for work permits.

Steps involved:

  1. File Form I-765 with USCIS.
  2. Once approved, the H-4 spouse can work in the U.S.

Adjustment EADs

Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) allows certain individuals to apply for lawful permanent residence (Green Card) while residing in the U.S. Spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders who are applying for adjustment of status may be eligible for employment authorization.

Steps involved:

  1. File Form I-765 along with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or anytime thereafter while the application is pending.
  2. Upon approval, the spouse can work for any employer in the U.S.

Tips for a Successful Application

  • Ensure you meet the specific eligibility requirements for spousal employment authorization before you file your application.
  • The application process involves filing Form I-765 with USCIS. Ensure you use the most recent edition of the form and complete all fields accurately to avoid rejection or denial.
  • Keep detailed records of your application and supporting documents.
  • Stay updated on current immigration policies, as they can change frequently.
  • Consider consulting an immigration attorney to navigate complex requirements. Alternatively, you can check out immigration software like Imagility, that simplifies the entire visa application process. If you need help understanding the visa process or if you’d like to know how Imagility works, reach out to us for a demo today at or call us at +1 603 782 4622/+1 617 865 6588.


Whether you’re an E spouse, L-2 spouse, or have an H-4 or Adjustment EAD, we hope this blog helped you understand your work options. By exploring these possibilities, you can contribute your skills and talents to the American workforce and achieve your personal and professional goals.

Subscribe for latest blog updates

By submitting this you will be receiving our latest updates on the blogs.

Get Started With Imagility

Save upto 6 hours a day!