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US Taking Measures to Stop Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders from Working

December 2017, 18
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The Trump administration is considering revoking an old rule that allows work authorization to the spouses of H-1B visa holders. It is likely to heavily impact several Indian workers.

From 2015, the spouses of persons holding H-1B visa, who awaited green cards, were eligible to work in the country on H-4 dependent visas. This rule was introduced by the Obama administration. More than 41,000 of such H-4 visa holders were authorized to work in 2016. In 2017 until June, 36,000 H-4 visa holders were authorized to work. The H-1B program is popular with overseas specialized workers, like Indians and Chinese, to arrive in the United States and seek employment.

Now, The Department of Homeland Security has said that it is proposing to remove a few H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants from its regulations from the eligibility norms for employment authorization.

These changes are forwarded considering President Trump’s focus on Buying American and Hiring American policy. 

Changing this rule will not stop spouses of H-1B holders from opting for alternatives for work authorization, but would discourage many top skilled immigrants, from residing in the country, in case their spouses are not in a position to find work easily.

This proposal has disappointed the supporters of the program. It jeopardizes many contributing and hardworking persons, who have started their own businesses, and have US citizen children, to be forced to the status of inactivity.

Besides rescinding the rule permitting spouses to work, the DHS has plans, to make other changes to the H-1B visa program. These include amending the definition, of the occupations eligible for the program, and to refocus on obtaining the top and bright overseas nationals.

This will raise the standard above what is presently understood in the law. The previous rule, which allowed spouses, to pursue work, is now facing challenge legally. Save Jobs USA, a local group has filed a lawsuit in 2015, with the argument that it is a threat to American jobs. The present plan to revamp the H-1B program has caused apprehension in India, which contributes around 70 percent of H-1B workers.

The H-1B serves as a frequent visa route taken by highly skilled foreigners, in finding work in US companies. It has three years validity and has a provision to be renewed for three more years. It is popular with the technological-based professionals and they compete for 85,000 visas decided every year.

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