- Schedule published by Homeland Security suggests EAD for H4 visa holders to be removed
- The move may affect up to 200,000 H4 visa holders
- Indians account for the maximum number of EADs awarded to H4 visa holders
Following the many changes made to the H1B visa policy, the USCIS is now looking at changes in policy regarding the H4 visa work authorization. This change could affect the fate of up to 200,000 immigrants living in the USA.
According to a schedule published by Homeland Security, a new rule removing the authorization of H4 visa holders to work will be published this month.
H4 Visa Quick Facts
- 94% of H4 spouses with work authorization is women as of 2017
- 93% of H4 program beneficiaries are Indians
- 71,000 spouses of H1 visa holders have employment permits according to Migration Policy Institute
- In 1997, 47,206 H4 visas were issued and the number had risen to 124,484 by 2015
- From 2015 to 2017, 90,946 spouses — 84,935 women and 6,011 men — applied for the work authorization
What Is A H4 Visa?
Spouses and unmarried, dependent children of H1B visa holders are awarded an H4 visa. This visa typically allows them to stay in the country, study here and travel in and out freely.
As of February 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to start issuing Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to H4 visa holders who met certain conditions.
With an EAD, H4 visa holders could legally start a business or take up work as long as their spouse’s H1B visa is valid.
Countries With The Highest Number Of H4 Visas Issued
|Year||Total H4 Visas Awarded||India||China||Mexico||Philippines||South Korea|
Why Change The H4 Visa Work Authorization?
The proposed change by the Department of Homeland security is part of the Trump administration’s change towards the H1B visa policy. A number of tech companies in Silicon Valley have been pushing for an expansion of the total number of H1B visas awarded each year. Currently, up to 85,000 immigrants are awarded the H1B visa annually.
Some critics feel that this visa is being used to get cheaper foreign labor and hence take jobs away from American citizens. In the notifications put up by the USCIS last years about the proposed change in H4 visa regulations, they said, “Some US. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold.”
Number Of EADs Approved For H4 Spouses
|Year||Number of EADs Approved|
Changes Already Made To The H1B Visa Policy
Under the Trump administration, the rates of denials for H1B visas have dramatically increased as the USCIS’s demands for documentary evidence has increased. The lottery system used to grant these visas has also been tweaked to give applicants with a post-graduate degree or more from a US college, an advantage over others.
What Will Happen If H4 Visa Holders Cannot Work?
Almost 100,000 women, most of who are Indian have work authorization. Many of these women who live and work in the Bay area have said that they would rather leave the country with their family than lose their careers and one stream of family income.
There may also be legal implications. A lawsuit filed by a group called “Save Jobs USA” against Homeland Security is currently in the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.
This case was filed by a group of American formerly employed by the department’s Southern California Edison utility. They claim that they had been replaced by H1B visa holders and that when the agency allowed H4 visa holders to work in the USA, it overstepped its own authority.
Not the First Time This Change Has Been Proposed
The first time, the agency has proposed withdrawing work authorization for H4 visa holders. It first proposed disallowing the visa holders to work in 2017. Since then, it has missed several of its own timelines for publication of the changes.
According to one report, the proposed rule is awaiting approval from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House. If approved, the rule could be published quite soon.