Plan of US to End Work Visas for Spouses of H-1B Holders - Deadline Missed

July 04, 2018

The decision of President Trump, to revoke H-4 visas, for spouses of H-1B visa holders, has missed yet another deadline.

This is happening for the second time in 2018.  The administration failed to issue the notification on the decision regarding terminating the work authorization of H-4 visa holders, who are spouses of professionals availing H-1B visas.

Plan of US to End Work Visas for Spouses of H-1B Holders - Deadline Missed

The Homeland Security Department stated before  a US court earlier this year regarding taking measures for issuing a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in June 2018.

On 30th June, the Department failed to offer any reason for non issue of the notice of this rule. This could have commenced the process formally of terminating the decision to give work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders.

The decision of the Government

In the past President Obama had introduced this policy. An official of the Department said that presently there were no updates to provide. Additionally he said that he cannot estimate regarding the time of making the decision. For several times during the year, the Department was firm that there will be no change in the plans regarding revoking the provision of authorization to a few categories of H-4 visas holders.

Moreover, women from India mainly received the  benefit of this provision, and President Trump  intends to overturn it. H-4 visas are generally issued to the spouses of H-1B visa holders. Many of these high-skilled professionals are Indians.

The developments this year

The Homeland Security Department had earlier missed the deadline in February 2018 also. It was answering the Federal Court, hearing the litigation stating the position of hoping to submit the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget, for review and clearance for publishing it in June 2018.

The United States District Court of Columbia is presently hearing a petition filed by 'Save Jobs USA'. It has a lawsuit against the order of the Obama administration, for giving work authorization, to the spouses of H-1B visa workers, whose green card applications were approved.

Moreover, two research scholars have said in a study that the unpredictability of these approaching changes regarding visa restrictions. They stated that the changes would cause financial damage, as well as burden the families psychologically. The spouses of expatriates will be deeply affected.

Negative effects 

Also cancelling spouse work permits will affect business operations of IT companies negatively. This was the view of Pooja B Vijayakumar, a student of the Kemmy Business School, Limerick, Ireland, and Christopher JL Cunningham of the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. In case the present administration carries out the plan of cancellation of work permits for spouses of expatriates, IT companies and business establishments need to have a  plan in supporting spouses. This will lead to prevent and minimize turnover of significant members of highly talented IT workforce.

H-4 visa holders receive the work permits after a special order was issued by the administration of President Obama. More than one lakh H-4 visa holders benefited from this rule.

The history

In 2015, the Obama administration, issued this rule and allowed work permits for spouses who could not be employed at that time. This was when the H-1B visa holders were seeking PR status which sometimes took 10-15 years.

The H-1B program offers temporary US visas which permit companies to employ top skilled overseas professionals to work in areas where there is a shortage of qualified local workers. The Trump administration desires to crack down on the H-1B and H-4 visa schemes.
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