The rescission of H-4 EAD could drive away international talent that bolsters America’s tech, prosperity, innovation, and economic competitiveness. The Trump administration in June 2018 confirmed its intent to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of immigrants eligible to seek employment in the U.S. The action would force about 105,000 people into unemployment. Many skilled foreign employees sponsored through the H-1B visa would be forced to leave the country if their spouses aren’t able to work.
The withdrawal of H-4 EAD is a part of President Trump’s effort to protect U.S. wages from foreign competition with his “buy American, hire American,” executive order. H-4 visa holders were not allowed to be involved in any gainful employment until 2015 when the Obama government realized that skilled foreign workers were leaving the country. Several congresswomen mentioned this concern in a May letter urging DHS to maintain the program, citing that providing work authorization for certain spouses of H-1B visa holders allows employers to hire highly qualified employees.
Highly Skilled Couples Already Weighing Their Options
Wait times for applicants were more than 10 years before the rule was enacted. Enormous backlogs are yet to be processed and as of May 2018, USCIS was still processing employment-based green cards for applications that date back to 2008. Immigration analysts estimate that those applying today could wait for 17 years to get a visa. The H-4 EAD program provides relief to applicants.
Rescission of the program would force thousands of individuals to endure more than a decade of unemployment as they wait in line for their green card. Many families who depend on it are already weighing their options. They’ll have to decide whether they wait years in line for the H-4 visa dependents to get their green cards or leave to a country where they’ll be allowed to work.
America Is Falling Behind On Recruiting High-Value International Talent
A 2015 assessment by the Business Roundtable shows that the U.S is already falling behind when it comes to establishing reliable ways to recruit and capitalize on high-skilled foreign nationals. It ranks ninth out of ten countries that recruit most foreign top talent. Economists stress that blocking a spouse from working in the U.S. put the country at a disadvantage of losing the very talent that drives much of its economy and prevents the acquisition of generous offers coming from overseas firms.