Spouses of H-1B workers can work in US, rules judge
In a huge relief to foreign workers, especially Indians, a United States (US) district judge ruled that the spouses of H-1B visa holders are eligible to work in the country. District Judge Tanya Chutkan made the observation while dismissing a case filed by Save Jobs USA, which sought to scrap the Obama-era regulation that granted employment authorization cards to partners of H-1B visa holders.
Why does this story matter?
- The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US businesses to hire foreign workers for jobs that require specialized knowledge. US tech companies reportedly depend on it to employ thousands of employees from countries like China and India.
- This ruling will benefit Indian tech workers and their spouses, who have been accused by anti-immigrant groups of "stealing jobs."
US tech giants opposed the lawsuit
Until recently, spouses of H-1B visa holders were not permitted to work. So far, the US has issued approximately 1 lakh work authorizations to them, which includes a significant number of Indians. Notably, US tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft opposed the lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA, and stated that they planned to appeal against the ruling.
Court dismissed Jobs USA's argument that government wasn't authorized
Save Jobs USA argued that the US Congress doesn't authorize the Department of Homeland Security to permit foreign nationals—such as H-4 visa holders—to work during their stay in the US. However, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act, the judge held that Congress had empowered the government to authorize employment to spouses of H-4 workers as a permissible condition for a stay in the US.
65,000 H-1B visas approved, limit reached for financial year 2024
According to a statement issued on Monday by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the country has approved a total of 65,000 H-1B visas, which is the country's limit. The current annual regular cap of 65,000 for H-1B was set by the Congress.