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US reconfirms plan to revoke rule offering permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders

The Trump administration had announced its intention to do away with the programme — H-4 EAD (employment authorization document) — in the fall version of the registry in 2017, and it had planned to start the process in February 2018.

world Updated: Jun 15, 2018 23:34 IST
H-1b visa,US visa,H-4
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada.(AP File Photo)

Disregarding mounting bipartisan opposition, the Trump administration is pressing ahead with its plan to end a government regulation that allows work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders who have been cleared for permanent residency (Green Card), mostly from India.

“Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses From the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization,” said a recent notification in the semi-annual registry of the federal government’s agenda.

The plan is to launch the rule-making process sometime this month, according to the notification.

The Trump administration had announced its intention to do away with the programme — H-4 EAD (employment authorization document) — in the fall version of the registry in 2017, and it had planned to start the process in February 2018. It didn’t, but but it also did not change the decision, as was reiterated by officials multiple times.

The matter is also under litigation in a Washington DC court.

A large and bipartisan group of members of the US House of Representatives recently appealed to the secretary of Department of Homeland Security, which has oversight over the agency that runs immigration, to not kill the rule arguing beneficiaries help the US economy grow and they were mostly women.

An Obama-era regulation issued in 2015 grants employment authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders waiting for their Green Card (permanent residency), which for Indians is a long time because of a massive backlog that get worse every year. H-4EAD is not for all H-1B spouses, but only for those cleared for permanent residency.

The intention, Obama administration officials have said was to continue to attract and retain highly skilled foreigners some of whom might otherwise have been forced to look at other destinations because of the long waiting period.

By some estimates, it could take Indian H-1B visa holders between 70 to 100 years to get their Green Card even after being cleared. And because their spouses were allowed to work until the Obama-era regulation, families had to make do with single-incomes, which remained low because of strict H-1B conditions.

The Trump administration wants to end this work authorization in order to prevent these spouses from competing for jobs that would otherwise have gone to Americans.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 22:12 IST