Legislation in US Congress to Protect H-1B Spouses’ Right to Work

The H-4 Employment Protection Act prohibits Trump from revoking work authorisation to spouses of H-1B visa holders.

Published
World
2 min read
H-1B visa programme to be revamped radically by Trump administration. Image used for representation.
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Legislation seeking to prohibit the Trump administration from revoking the work authorisation of spouses of H-1B visa holders, which include Indians, has been introduced in the US Congress by two lawmakers who said that eliminating this benefit would force many foreign workers to use their talents to compete against American businesses.

H-4 visas are issued to the spouses of H-1B foreign workers. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa through which many Indians workers are employed in US companies. It allows the US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is the most sought-after visa among Indian IT professionals.

H-4 visas are issued only to very close or immediate family members of the H-1B visa holders.

The move by lawmakers Anna G Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren to introduce the H-4 Employment Protection Act, comes amidst determination by the Trump administration to revoke an Obama-era rule that extends work authorisation to the spouses of H-1B visa holders.

Since the rule was implemented, over 100,000 workers, mainly women, that too from India, have received employment authorisation, improving the US' competitiveness and lessening the economic burden on thousands of H-1B workers and their families, the two lawmakers said after introducing the bill in the House.

The H-4 Employment Protection Act prohibits the Trump administration from revoking this important rule, which it is expected to do by the end of the year, they said.

"Protecting work authorisation for these H-4 visa holders is a matter of both economic fairness and family unity," Eshoo said.

“Eliminating this benefit would create a painful choice for many immigrants to either split up their families or return to their home countries and use their talents to compete against American businesses.” 
Anna G Eshoo

"These are American citizens-in-waiting, stuck in line for their number to come up," Congressman Lofgren said.

"Prohibiting H-1B dependent spouses from working is of no benefit to our country, and if allowed to move forward, many of these families that can contribute so much to our workforce will simply move to countries with a more sensible approach to immigration. This much needed bill will block the Trump administration from needlessly harming our economy and the lives of skilled immigrant families," Lofgren said.

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