On August 9, 2010, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended its regulatory definition of “dependents” for A or G principal aliens to include, in addition to spouses and unmarried sons and daughters, those who are not related to the principal alien by blood, marriage or adoption.
Previously, DHS regulations allowed only the following dependents habitually residing with the A or G principal to apply for employment authorization:

• Spouse;
• Unmarried children under the age of 21;
• Unmarried sons or daughters under the age of 23 who are full-time post-secondary school students;
• Unmarried sons and daughters under the age of 25 who are full-time secondary school students if a formal bilateral agreement permitting their employment in the U.S. was signed prior to November 21, 1988, and if such bilateral agreement does not specify 23 as the maximum age for employment of such sons and daughters; and
• Unmarried sons or daughters who are physically or mentally disabled to the extent that they cannot adequately care for themselves or cannot establish, maintain or re-establish their own households.

The recent DHS change was meant to correspond to last year’s regulatory expansion of the definition of “immediate family” by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) which include those who:

• Are not members of some other household;
• Will reside regularly in the household of the principal alien;
• Are recognized as immediate family members of the principal alien by the sending Government as demonstrated by eligibility for rights and benefits, such as the issuance of a diplomatic or official passport, or travel or other allowances; and
• Are individually authorized by the Department of State.

The regulations controlling the employment of aliens has also been amended to allow these dependents to now file an I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) pursuant to 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(1) and (4). Specifically, the amendments replace references to the “spouses” and “children” of A and G principal aliens with “dependent.”