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Will Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders Lose Their Right to Work?

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on September 15, 2017

Work permits for H-4 visa holders could soon disappear. While the H-1B visa allows families of immigrant employees to live in America, these family members were often restricted by H-4 visas, which are issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders. Until recently,people with H-4 visas were not allowed to work or make their own money. H-4s even denied immigrants their own Social Security numbers.

In 2015, President Barack Obama created work permits for immigrants whose spouses were waiting to receive their green cards. However, this recently implemented rule could be compromised as the Trump administration attempts to protect American jobs by putting more limits on immigration.

Opposition Toward Work Authorization

In addition to attacks from the Trump administration, there’s an existing lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security that’s trying to eliminate the work authorization.

Save Jobs USA originally filed the lawsuit in April 2015. The group argues that American jobs are increasingly threatened by allowing H-4 visa holders to work. In February, the Trump administration requested a 60-day delay to have ample time to review it. Then in March, Immigration Voice, an immigrant rights advocacy group, filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of two holders of H-4 visas who faced the loss of their businesses and jobs. Finally, in April, the Trump administration asked for an extended delay of 180 days, to be reconsidered in September.

Most H-4 visa holders are women who traveled with their husbands—H-1B visa holders—to help support their families and become permanent residents. They are typically as educated as their spouses, who in many cases use H-1B business visas in the software industry.

No Changes for Now

While the Trump administration and the pending lawsuit could eventually put a stop to H-4 work authorization, no changes have been made yet. Although the Trump administration could remove work authorization, an action would have to pass through a lengthy period of notice and comments- a requirement that has hindered other efforts by trump to unravel rules set in the Obama-era.

However, the threat still stands against H-4 work authorization and could mark one of the most detrimental movements against immigrant rights. Until any alterations are made, spouses of H-1B business visa holders will be able to maintain their jobs.