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.
And Spouses of H1-B visa holders with a valid H-4 visa can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the US government has agreed to review and possibly revoke the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
This document is needed by H-4 visa holders to allow them to work legally in the country. This decision will benefit over 1 lakhs Indian spouses of H1-B visa holders. Spouses of H1-B visa holders who are eligible for EADs may not file for renewals of fresh issuance of these documents.
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 Is This Decision Important?
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had earlier filed a petition with a US district Court to defend its right to grant EADs to a certain category of spouses of H1-B visa holders.
It has argued that this authorization does not take away jobs from American nationals. Allowing the spouses of H1-B visa holders to work independently also acts as an incentive for H1-B visa hodlers to continue living and working in the USA.
Given that the decision goes against the Trump administration’s overall view on immigrants, some have assumed that pressure is being put on the government from big businesses that support H-4 EADs.
The spouse of an H1-B visa holder can enter the country on a H-4 visa. The visa allows individuals to live in the USA but is not enough to apply for a job. For this, they need an EAD. A law making H-4 visa holders eligible for an EAD was passed by the Obama administration in 2014/2015.
This document allows the individual to take up part-time or full-time work with any employer in the USA. It also allows the individual to start a business of their own.
The H4 EAD has no quota and the H4 visa holder does not need to have a valid job offer to be eligible for an EAD.
Why Changing The H4 Visa Work Authorization Was Considered?
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 year 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.
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.
- The Fate Of H4 Visa Holders When The H4EAD Program Gets Repealed
- Withdrawing Work Permit For H4 Visa Holders May Do More Harm Than Good
- H4 Visa Work Authorization Current Status and Rules
- Trump’s Merit Based Immigration And Green Card System – Key Points