New Process for Employment Authorization of E2 Visa Spouses

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Deryck Jordan

Deryck is admitted as an Attorney at Law in New York and in Berlin.

It is now easier and faster for spouses of E2 visa investors to obtain employment authorization.


E2 investors and E2 employees may be accompanied or followed to the US by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Those spouses and children will have their own E2 visas and will be classified as E2 dependents.

Upon entering the US, E2 visa holders (ie, E2 investors, E2 employees, E2 spouses and E2 children) receive an I-94 that typically authorizes them to remain in the US for two years. 

Spouses of E-2 workers are generally eligible to work in the US.  Minor children of E-2 workers are not authorized to work in the US.


Under the old rules, upon their entry to the US, E2 dependent spouses received I-94s that showed that the spouse’s class of admission to the US was “E2”.  The same E2 class of admission was used for children with E2 status. It was therefore impossible to use the I-94 as evidence of work authorization. 

E2 dependent spouses (but not E2 dependent minor children) could nevertheless apply for an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) and a US social security card.  The EAD would remain valid through the validity period of the I-94.  A new EAD was required when an I-94 expired and a new I-94 was issued.  However, during the pandemic, processing time at USCIS for EAD applications often exceeded nine months.  As a result, E2 dependent spouses could not legally work for a substantial amount of time that they were in the US.


Based on new rules from USCIS, spouses of E2 visa holders will have an easier and faster process for receiving employment authorization in the US. 

As of January 30, 2022, newly issued I-94s of E2 spouses clearly indicate that the person named on the I-94 is an E2 spouse (and not an E2 minor child).  The class of admission for E-2 spouses is now E-2S.  With this new notation on their unexpired I-94, E2 dependent spouses will not need to apply for an EAD.  Their unexpired I-94 can be used as proof that they are eligible to work in the US.

In April 2022 USCIS started mailing notices to E-2 spouses whose unexpired I-94s only show the ambiguous “E-2” status.  Those notices, which show the new E2S status, can (together with an unexpired I-94 reflecting E2 status) serve as evidence of employment authorization for the E2 spouse.

The new class of admission for children of E-2 workers is E2Y.

For support with your E2 visa application, contact the lawyers at JORDAN COUNSEL.

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