Representational Image. (NYT)
Representational Image. (NYT)

Biden administration to let H-1B spouses work: What it means

This comes as a relief for the Indian community in the US that lived with uncertainty after the Trump administration sought to take away their work authorisation as part of a larger effort to protect jobs for Americans
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 10:58 AM IST

The Joe Biden administration in the US has withdrawn a Donald Trump-era rule rescinding work authorisation for spouses of some H-1B visa holders, a large number of them from India. Here is what we know about the matter:

• This comes as a relief for the Indian community in the US that lived with uncertainty after the Trump administration sought to take away their work authorisation as part of a larger effort to protect jobs for Americans.

• Certain H-4 visa holders, spouses of H-1B visa holders with approved applications for Green Cards, were granted authorisation to work by President Barack Obama in 2015

• This was done primarily to help families cope with prolonged waiting time for applicants from India (because of a country-cap on annual Green Cards).

• Nearly 90% of H-4 workers are highly paid women from India with college degrees.

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• The 2015 Obama-era regulation, which the Trump administration opposed but failed to rescind, applies to H-4 visa holders who are spouses (not children) of H-1B visa holders with an approved green card petition.

• Trump wanted to rescind the order as part of his larger plan to reform the legal immigration system to ensure Americans had the first shot at jobs and not foreigners, under his “Buy American, Hire American” policy.

• His administration had joined a lawsuit challenging the Obama-era rule and later issued a rule rescinding it.

• Trump and other immigration hawks in his administration targeted the H-1B visa programme, for instance, by alleging it had been used by American companies to outsource jobs to foreigners on lower wages.

• Indians have been the largest recipients of H-1B visas, accounting for more than 70% of the annual 85,000.

• Trump administration had rescinded work authorisation for H-4 visa holders arguing they were taking away jobs from Americans, despite bipartisan pushback from Congress.

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