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Americans Want Spouses of H-1B Holders to Work

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on April 12, 2018

Lawmakers are urging the Department of Homeland Security to not forge ahead with their plans of revoking legislation allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to be eligible for job opportunities in the U.S. Initially, these spouses could not be legally employed but the Obama administration’s 2015 rule allowed certain H-4 visa holders to be eligible to work in the U.S.The number of H-4 permits granted from the time the rule was enacted has increased over the years and many H-4 visa holders have been able to obtain gainful employment. The government had previously said that the H-4 rule “hurts American workers” and this is the major reason behind the plans to revoke the permits.

Earlier, groups in the tech and business industries representing several companies including Visa Inc., Google, and Amazon, wrote a letter to the government urging them not to terminate work authorizations for H-4 visa holders whose spouses are waiting to be issued green cards. Other groups stated that preventing a spouse from working while waiting for bureaucratic backlogs to be cleared makes living in the United States less attractive.

Revoking Work Eligibility Will Create Financial Hardships

Groups urging the DHS to reconsider the proposals argue that repealing the work eligibility of H-4 visa holders will create financial hardships and significant uncertainty for many highly skilled professionals who play a critical role in driving the economy. In areas where these high-tech professionals live, it’s nearly impossible for one income to sustain the family. Spouses are a necessary source of income for the survival of immigrant families and if the work permits are revoked, more than 100,000 people stand to be impacted. Such families may find it a disincentive to live in the U.S and this may create room for H-1B visa holders to move to countries where their skilled and often overlooked spouses will have the opportunity to obtain gainful employment.

Technology companies have relied on H-1B visas to hire tens of thousands of foreign employees from countries like China and India, particularly in the fields of technology, mathematics, science, and engineering. Without these professionals, the existence of companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Qualcomm- which massively contribute to the economy- would be dimmed.