Revoking right to work will dent H-1B spouses' economic independence: Study

Topics H1B Visa | H-4 visa

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If the right to work for dependent spouses of a certain category of H-1B visa holders -- those on track for a green card -- is revoked, their economic independence would be severely impacted, a recently released research paper has reportedly said.  

The Economic Times report that cited the report explained that the spouses of H-1B visa holders come to the US on an H-4 visa. Further, according to the report, if the primary H-1B visa holder is on track to get a green card, then the spouse can apply for an employment authorisation document (EAD), which gives them the right to find employment or become self-employed. A significantly large number of H-1B visa holders are high-skilled professionals from India. 

The report, by US based non-profit South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI), reportedly said that "rescinding work authorisation for H-4 visa holders disproportionately impacts immigrant women and families from South Asian countries". Without the EAD, SAAPRI reportedly found that H-4 visa holders could remain unemployed for up to 10 years or more.  

According to the financial daily, the report, titled 'Defying Dependence', includes survey data from over 100 South Asian H-4 visa holders. SAAPRI has reportedly found that since the adoption of the H-4 work authorisation policy in 2015, 93 per cent of all H-4 EADs were granted to South Asians and 93 per cent were granted to women. 

According to the financial daily, SAAPRI Executive Director Dhara Puvar said that the report aims to voice the experiences of those directly impacted by the pending work authorisation policy change in the H-4 community, the vast majority being South Asian women and families. "Our findings reveal that the H-4 EAD rescission is a racial, economic, and gender justice issue," added Puvar. According to the report, the ability to work is also closely tied to the mental health of H-4 EAD holders and their families. 

Citing US officials, news agencies had reported in June that the Trump administration's decision to rescind work authorisation for H-4 visa holders was yet to get a final shape as the rule making process in that regard was not complete.  

Back then, US officials had reportedly said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) "continues reviewing" all employment-based visa programmes, including the H-4 EADs or employment authorisation card. 

News agencies had also reported that the Department of Homeland Security, in its annual spring agenda, had reiterated the proposal to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation. 

Certain H-4 workers had been allowed to get employment authorisation under the Obama administration.

However, soon after US President Donald Trump came to power, his administration had informed a US court that it was planning to rescind such a rule. 
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