As a result of a class action lawsuit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has entered into a settlement agreement to “bundle” an application to extend or change H-4 or L-2 status and, if applicable, an employment authorization document (EAD) application, if the application is filed with the principal’s corresponding H-1B or L-1 petition.

As background: Form I-539 is the application to extend/change nonimmigrant temporary status, and Form I-765 is the application for employment authorization.

In recent years, USCIS has taken as long as two years to adjudicate the Form I-539 and Form I-765 when the agency began “decoupling” H-4, L-2, and EAD applications from principal H-1B or L-1 applications. This delay has impacted many foreign employees looking to work and companies looking to hire or retain them. 

Under this new settlement, USCIS will return to its historical process of adjudicating these forms simultaneously with the principal’s Form I-129 petition when the forms are concurrently filed. The bundling will apply to both standard and premium processing filings. However, if the forms are filed separately, USCIS will not bundle the adjudication. The terms of the agreement will go into effect Jan. 25, 2023, and will remain in force for at least two years.

It remains unclear how USCIS will adjudicate pending I-539 or I-765 applications that were filed concurrently with Form I-129, prior to Jan. 25, 2023.

Those with questions about the settlement should work with experienced immigration counsel.