PTI, Bloomberg, April 24, 2018
The Trump administration is planning to end allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the U.S., a top federal agency official has told lawmakers, a move that could have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Indians.
The move to end the Obama-era rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits.
H-4 is issued to the spouse of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. They had obtained work permits under a particular order issued by the previous Obama administration.
A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration 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 Trump administration is planning to terminate this provision. A former communication is expected to be made later this summer, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley.
“Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility,” Cissna said.
According to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute, the U.S. has issued employment authorisation documents to more than 71,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders, over 90 percent of whom are Indians.