Updated on 31.03.2022

Visa question - How to obtain a new I-94 form after entering the country?

Your question: Our manager's spouse wants to work in the USA and we have heard that a note is automatically made on the I-94 form. Unfortunately, we could not find it. Can she still work in the USA or would we have to have the I-94 corrected?

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Your question

We have various expats in our IT company who are currently working with aL-1 visa in the USA, including their families who are there on L-2 visas. Due to Corona, some status extensions have been made in the U.S. for these individuals.
How do the spouse:s of our employees now get a new I-94 form that includes the new USCIS regulations and they are allowed to work with it?

Our answer

In your question, you allude to the changes in license plate codes on the entry form I-94 whose implementation is supported by the US authorities announced in recent weeks.

Background: Until now, spouses under L-2 (or E) status had to apply for a General Work Permit (GWP) after entering the United States. through the U.S. Immigration Service in order to be allowed to work locally in the United States (EAD). Last year, the U.S. authorities announced an easement in this regard: L-2 or E visa holders can work in the U.S. directly by submitting the I-94 entry form, even without first applying for an EAD. However, the status as "spouse" must be indicated in this form. In this context, the U.S. authorities have made a change to the identification codes. From now on, the residence status in the I-94 form will be marked with an additional "S" (for Spouse), e.g. as L-2S or E-1S. Then employment is possible, if this addition is missing, an EAD application will still be required.

There are two ways that L-2s, as well as E spouses:ins, can receive an I-94:

  1. Entry at the U.S. Border by Air or Land with E/L-2 Visa - CBP

    The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has jurisdiction here. Travelers receive an entry stamp in their passport and, in parallel, an electronic I-94 entry form is filed, which is available online.

  2. Affected applicant:s are already in the US - USCIS

    If you are already in the US, you can also obtain a (new) I-94 in the context of status renewal or change of status procedures. The USCIS is responsible for this and sends an Approval Notice to the applicant after approval of such processes in the USA. On this Approval Notice there is a new I-94 form in paper form, which shows the current (changed or extended) residence status.

Consequently, two agencies may have jurisdiction over the new E and L-2 codes with the suffix "S": CBP or USCIS.

Until now, only CBP had officially confirmed the implementation, but now USCIS has followed suit. Since January 30, 2022, USCIS has also started to add the suffix "S" to I-94 forms for E or L-2 spouses in the event of a change of status/extension of status (I-539 procedure).

At the same time, USCIS issued the following notice: E or L-2 spouse:ing (age 21 or older) who has an I-94 form before January 30, 2022 on the part of UCSIS.(Approval Notice) and whose status is still valid, will automatically receive a new "Notice" by mail as of April 01, 2022, which will then, together with the still valid I-94, entitle them to start work. I.e., the USCIS will proactively write to these affected groups of persons.

L-2 or E spouses:in who have not received a letter from UCSIS by April 30 or who are under 21 years of age may email the appropriate office at: [email protected]

Important: Only L-2 or E spouses who have received an I-94 from UCSIS are affected. If the I-94 was issued at the border by CBP and does not yet contain an "S" suffix, there will be no automatic change or notification. These persons can then only obtain a new I-94 (then hopefully with the new suffix "S") via an exit and re-entry at the border or alternatively contact a local CBP office.

For the spouses of your local personnel, it would therefore first be necessary to check whether they currently hold a valid I-94 and, if so, by which authority this was issued. If by means of status extension by the USCIS, an automatic notification should be made by the end of April 2022.

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Updated on 31.03.2022