H-1B visa holders’ spouses can now work in US | world | Hindustan Times
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H-1B visa holders’ spouses can now work in US

Starting May 26, US immigration will start accepting work permit applications from holders of H4 visas, spouses of those on H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign workers.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2015 10:31 IST
Yashwant Raj
H-1B visas

It’s been a long wait. Come May 26, Ketaki Desai, a marketing professional, will become president of a Pittsburg start-up she has been advising, and sign her own offer letter.

Starting May 26, US immigration will start accepting work permit applications from holders of H4 visas, spouses of those on H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign workers.

“The inability of those spouses until now to apply for employment, to seek and obtain employment, has imposed in many cases significant hardships on the families of H-1B visa holders,” said Leon Rodriguez, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

More than 179,000 people stand to benefit immediately, over the next year, and between 50,000 and 55,000 in subsequent years. And most of them, an estimated 80%, will be Indians.

Desai will be one of them. She came to the US to study in 2002, and upon graduation in 2008 landed in a job market that couldn’t have been in a worse situation.

After trying academics and some consulting options, she and her husband returned to India disadvantaged by a immigration system widely considered broken.

Disheartened but not despondent, they returned in 2013, her husband on H-1B and Desai on H4, which didn’t allow her to work for money. She could only volunteer.

Or advise, as she did with a start-up, which makes analytics software, joining its board. Post-May 26, “for all work purposes I will be just like an American”.

It was always a question of rights, said Vikram Desai of Immigration Voice, which has been lobbying the administration and Congress on this and related issues.

H-1B spouses didn’t enjoy the same rights as those on other work visas such as L1. H-1Bs suffer from other disadvantages, which will be dealt with one issue at a time.

The Obama administration had announced its intention to allow H-1B spouses to work in May 2014, and followed it up with an executive order in November, setting the stage for it.

With Republicans, who are now in control of Congress, in no mood to pass a comprehensive immigration reforms law, President Barack Obama has resolved to use his executive powers.

And so came work permits for H4 visa holders.