H1-B visa: Tech group says US likely to revoke work permits for spouses of foreign workers | world news | Hindustan Times
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H1-B visa: Tech group says US likely to revoke work permits for spouses of foreign workers

The Trump administration plans to delay till June the end of a programme that granted work authorisation to spouses of H-1B visa holders awaiting their Green Cards, mostly from India.

world Updated: Mar 05, 2018 19:42 IST
Yueqi Yang
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn after returning to the White House, February 1.  Revoking the work permits is expected to regulate high-skilled immigration as Trump pushes his ‘America First’ agenda.
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn after returning to the White House, February 1. Revoking the work permits is expected to regulate high-skilled immigration as Trump pushes his ‘America First’ agenda.(Reuters File)

A technology industry group said the delay of a Trump administration proposal to rescind work permits for spouses of high-skilled foreign workers isn’t likely to lead to any change in plans to end the programme.

The Department of Homeland Security said this week it’s delaying issuing a proposal to remove work eligibility of H-1B spouses, citing the need to perform a new economic analysis, according to a February 28 court filing. The filing was in connection with a suit filed by an advocacy group, Save Jobs USA, which argued that DHS doesn’t have the right to grant work permits without congressional approval.

“In the short term, it helped. In the long run, we think they are still moving forward with the rescinding rule,” said Andy Halataei, senior vice president of government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, which counts Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google among its members. He said the delay shows the agency is “refining their economic arguments” for removing the work eligibility of spouses of H-1B visa recipients.

DHS had planned to rescind the rule, put in place by President Barack Obama’s administration, in February. It would be one of the agency’s early steps to regulate high-skilled immigration as President Donald Trump pushes his “America First” agenda.

The tech industry had lobbied against the change, saying that it would undermine US companies’ ability to attract foreign workers and that their spouses, who are granted H-4 visas under the programme, don’t take jobs from American workers.

FWD.us, a tech industry group advocating for immigration, said in a statement that it was “encouraged” by the delay and urged the administration to “take action immediately to keep this rule in place.”

Under current rules, the H-1B programme allows companies to hire high-skilled workers from overseas, with 85,000 visas available annually. More than 104,000 spouses have been granted work authorization since the H-4 visa rule was enacted under Obama, according to DHS’s Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Trump administration has been moving to tighten the program with Trump directing federal agencies to award visas only to “the most skilled and highest-paid” applicants.