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World
17 May 2018

Continue granting work-permit to H-4 visa-holders: US lawmakers to Trump

A bipartisan group of 130 US lawmakers from both the Republican and the Democratic parties urged the Trump administration to continue granting work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrant workers.

The letter by US lawmakers comes weeks ahead of Trump administration's move to formally revoke the Obama-era rule that allows spouses of H1-B visa holders to work legally in the US.

In context

Legislators urge Trump for work-authorization to H-4 holders
Repealing Obama-rule may have devastating-impact on H-4 visa holders: Letter

Devastating impact

Repealing Obama-rule may have devastating-impact on H-4 visa holders: Letter

The letter stated, "The work opportunity to H-4 visa holders has made our economy stronger while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses."

"Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of US employers and US economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families," it added.

The Trump administration's move could have a devastating impact on over 70,000 H-4 visa holders.

To whom H-4 visas are issued?

H-4 visas are issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. According to a recent Congressional report, a staggering 93% of the total H-4 visa holders in the US having work authorization are from India.

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Other countries

Work-permit helps in keeping US-policy on par with other countries

The lawmakers argued that the work authorization to accompanying spouses puts the United States' policy on par with other countries, such as Canada and Australia, which compete to attract talented foreign nationals.

Also, the additional income can help in fulfilling children's basic needs and also contribute to our economy by raising the families' disposable and taxable income, the letter said.

Spouses' inability to work could have adverse impact

Adverse impact

Spouses' inability to work could have adverse impact

The Congressmen said the H-4 visa holders' inability to work and contribute to household income could adversely impact the mental health of H-1B visa holders and their family members.

Also, it can lead to a loss of self-worth and depression. "It's an American value that everyone deserves to work, be financially self-sufficient, regardless of gender," the legislators added in the letter.

USCIS had approved 126,853 H-4 visa applications for employment

As of 25 Dec'17, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had approved 126,853 applications for employment authorization for H-4 visa holders. This includes all approvals since May'15 when the rule was implemented. This number includes 90,946 initial approvals, 35,219 renewals, 688 replacements for lost cards.

Explanation

What was Obama-era rule?

The H-4 visa holders had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration in 2015.

It allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status, a process that can take a decade or longer.

The Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision.

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