Updated on 12.03.2024

Visa question of the month - I-94 annotation for spouses missing

Your question: Our manager's spouse wants to work in the US and we have heard that an annotation 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 get the I-94 corrected?
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Your question

One of our managers has been granted an E-2 visa. He has now entered the United States with his spouse and their child. The spouse wants to work in the US and we have heard that an annotation is automatically made on the I-94 form. Unfortunately, we could not find it on the wife's I-94. Can the wife still work in the US or would we have to get the I-94 corrected?

Our answer

It is correct that when L-2 and E spouses enter the United States, an "S" is indicated after their status on the form I-94 Arrival / Departure Record (i.e. E1S, E2S or L2S). This dependent spouse status makes it clear that the person is the spouse (and not the child) of an L-1, E-1 or E-2 visa holder and thus enables employment in connection with the status. This means that the I-94 with the suffix "S" is then valid as a general work permit for the wife in the United States. By presenting this document, she can work for any employer in the US or become self-employed. The additional application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the USA, which was always necessary before the introduction of the I-94 rule, is therefore no longer necessary.

However, if your manager's wife (E-2 dependent spouse) does not receive an "S" annotation on her I-94 at the border and therefore does not receive E2S status, she will not be allowed to work in the United States. Unfortunately, we keep hearing about this problem, especially with E dependents. In fact, the "S" annotation should be automatically granted by CBP for all accompanying E or L spouses at the US border.

You can solve this as follows within the United States:

  1. Submit a request to CBP
    On the help page of the U.S. Border and Customs Protection (CBP) there is the possibility to request a correction of the class of admission from "E2" to "E2S" in the "Ask a Question" section. Please first select the topic "I-94 / Traveler Compliance" and then "E and L Dependents class of admission change" as the Applicable Issue. In addition, your employee's spouse should upload the passport copy, visa copy and the current I-94 with a brief explanation as supporting documents.
  2. Contact Deferred Inspection Sites
    At the Port of Entry where your employee and his family entered the country, you can request a correction at CBP's Deferred Inspection Sites. There you can either make an inquiry by telephone or by e-mail or, in an emergency, in person. Here, too, you must have all the documents mentioned under 1. ready or present them.
  3. Possible alternatives
    If your employee or his wife is unable to arrange a change, a "separate" application for a general work permit (EAD) could be submitted to the US immigration authority USCIS in order to be able to work in the US (unfortunately, this involves considerable waiting times). On the other hand, it would be possible for the family or the wife to leave the United States and re-enter in the hope of receiving a new, correct I-94 entry form with the endorsement "E2S".


Updated on 12.03.2024