The wait has finally come to an end for the “H4 Visa – A Curse’ Facebook group. This group uses a woman in a golden cage as its Display Picture. It is dedicated to protesting against “sidelining productive human beings”.
For employers looking for talent and for spouses of H1-B holders living in the USA, there is finally some good news. Effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants. This is a result of the executive order on administrative immigration reforms. This benefit has eluded H-4 visa holders, who come to the USA as spouses of H1-B visa holders, for quite some time now. Such employment benefits exist for spouses of other non-immigrant visa holders like E or L visas. But the laws do not allow the spouse of an H-1B non-immigrant worker to work or seek any scholarship to study further.
This move helps to clarify and improve visa programs while helping to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs. A number of highly skilled people, who can start contributing to the economy immediately, will be added to the available talent pool. According to estimates offered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the number of individuals eligible for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 this year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years.
This new work eligibility for H-4 visa holder spouses is expected to encourage H-1B skilled workers to remain in the United States, and show interest in becoming lawful permanent residents while both contribute to the economy. However, the eligibility comes with certain conditions and limitations.
The rule explicitly excludes H-4 dependent children of such H1-B visa holders. An eligible H-4 visa holder needs to have a valid unexpired visa, and their spouse needs to be a H1-B visa holder and also be:
H-4 dependent spouses who fulfill the above criteria could file an Application for Employment Authorization, and pay the required fee to obtain employment authorization or I-766, also known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). For those who do qualify, employment authorization carries no restrictions. The individual can work for any employer in any field, full-time or part-time.
The friendliness of the immigration policies of other countries is luring skilled workers away from the US. This rule may help to reverse that trend. Other benefits of this rule would include:
While the rule does not help all H-4 dependents, it is definitely a huge step in the right direction. Share your thoughts with us.
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