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H-1B Visa Holder Spouses Rejoice Entrée to USA

Wives of work visa holders in the US, you now have work permit too.

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Recent reports that the United States has finally decided to amend regulations to allow dependent spouses of specialised H-1B visa holders to work is being hailed with jubilation by Indian- Americans and the expat community.

Effective immediately, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications for employment. These details are available at www.uscis.gov.

Hard Lobbying by IT Companies

The US government’s decision is the result of hard lobbying by IT companies who believe that it will retain and attract a wider pool of foreign talent and their educated spouses. According to statistics, the decision will affect 97,000 people in the first year and 30,000 every subsequent year.

This is one of a few minor changes in the sensitive immigration policy the White House can make while comprehensive reform languishes in Congress.

Rashi Bhatnagar, a former journalist from New Delhi, who is currently unemployed, is ecstatic.

Wives of work visa holders in the US, you now have work permit too.
Rashi Bhatnagar is ecstatic at the development. 

The 31-year-old Milwaukee resident took a stand seven years ago. She started a Facebook blog H4 Visa, A Curse to Lament. It has 12,908 users currently who routinely log on to commiserate.

We had no financial independence, no identity in this country. I was a voiceless, faceless human being.

– Rashi Bhatnagar

Rashi arrived in the US to be with her husband Kapil who works for Cognizant.

The Earlier Law Created Psychological Problems

Pallavi Banerjee, a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, agrees. She has studied effects of the visa policy on the domestic affairs of high-skilled immigrants from India, which is the largest group. She found that they often regressed to the traditional model of dominant husbands and subservient wives. This sometimes led to depression, anxiety, domestic violence and financial difficulties.

“As a sociologist, I wanted to discover the stories of people who need their voices heard and who are made invisible. There was no activism or even public discussion,” said Banerjee, who started the project seven years ago.

“It affected me as a feminist academic and as an immigrant woman. I was appalled at US laws.”

A ‘Powerful’ Step

Suman Raghunathan, executive director, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), hailed the new rules as a giant, powerful step towards meaningful and comprehensive reform that will benefit immigrants.

“The new rules not only allow these individuals to pursue their dreams, innovate, and add tremendous energy and value to our nation’s economy and economic future for all,” he said.

Ravi Batra, an established Manhattan attorney, also applauded the new development. “A family that is fully and gainfully employed and gainfully employed is not only good for that individual family but good for the entire nation as each working member in our nation is contributing to the country ‘s economy,” he said.

This will change lives, promises Jyotsana Sharma, a housewife in Edison, New Jersey, who dreams of being an entrepreneur. “The sky is the limit now,” she said.

(Sonia Chopra is a freelance journalist based in the US)

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