Visa Tips

L1 and E3 Spouses no longer need to apply for work authorization in the USA

Posted by Immigration Bureau | Content |
May 29, 2022

L1 and E3 Spouses no longer need to apply for work authorization in the USA: It is automatic upon entry to the USA when they receive a valid I-94 as an E-3/Spouse or L2/Spouse.

L1 and E3 Spouses no longer need to apply for work authorization in the USA

The   Spouses of L1 and E3 Visa  holders working in the USA for an approved US Company— known as L2D and more recently  L2S  or  E2D and more recently E3S now obtain automatic permission  to work in the USA as long as they have received a  VALID I-94 showing either E3D or E3S or L2D or L2S- and the I-94  is “current” (not yet expired).

Spouses of E3 Visa holders and L1 visa holders no longer need to file the  I-765 work authorization application

- which has been taking more than 6 to 8   months or even up to 12 must  to get approved to work for 12 months. In other words, by the time it got approved, there was little or no time left on the permission to work in the USA.

The above “news” is based on new USCIS Guidance and  Systems Enforcement Analysis and Review (SEAR)  which mentioned in their report that  according to the Shergill v. Mayrokas litigation settlement, USCIS recognizes that E and L spouses are authorized to work incident to status, and any valid I-94 is considered valid for work authorization, regardless of the annotation. 

This is a huge “gift” as it offers spouses the ability to work for any US company or even start their own business or businesses. Unlike the primary E-3 or L1 visa holder- the spouse is essentially free to do whatever they please in regards to working in the USA - as long as what they choose to do is legal. 

To work for a US Employer- One must also obtain a valid Social Security Number

The problem that remains is with the US Social Security offices. They have been slow to issue social security (SS) numbers for L1 and E3 Spouses.. Without an SS number that indicates “valid for employment” an employer is unable to verify if a foreign national is allowed to work legally in the USA. We recently did send a client to the Social Security Office and the manager there was able to override the system that was rejecting the request —  and issued a brand new  SS number even though the I-94 shows E3D (the old designation) and not the more "clear"  E3S Designation.  With any luck

the SS offices across the USA will soon be “up to speed” and will issue the SS numbers in a routine/smooth process.

To obtain a copy of the I-94 that social security needs to see- please go to:


This is wonderful news for spouses of L and E visa holders AKA L2s and Es.. They now  have carte blanche to work for any US employer including self employment. In that respect they are not “married to”  their US employer the way the primary spouse is- who can only work for said employer.  This may seem illogical but US immigration laws/rules often defy logic. In this instance, we have here an incredibly generous benefit to spouses of E-3 and L1 primary visa holders.

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