The Joe Biden government recently announced that it would now provide automatic work authorisation permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders in the United States.
We answer some frequently asked questions regarding the move.
What does the decision of the US government regarding H-1B visa holders say?
A US court directed the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, to permit the automatic extension of work authorisation for spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders up to 180 days.
What are the two types of visas whose holders are benefitting from the policy change?
An H-4 visa is issued by the USCIS to spouses and children (who are aged below 21) of H-1B visa holders.
US government data says that 94 percent of H4 visa holders are women, and within this percentage, approximately 93 percent are Indians, The Indian Express reported.
With an L-1 visa that is issued to non-immigrants, multinational corporations can temporarily shift their foreign employees to offices on US soil for specialised work. The spouses or children aged below 21 of L-1 visa holders are issued L-2 visas.
What was the previous policy that was being followed?
Previously, the USCIS under the Barack Obama government had given work permits to only some categories of H-4 visa holders, but not all, the Financial Express reported.
What does the new policy mean for H-1B and L-2 visa holders?
Spouses of H-1B and L-2 visa holders now needn't submit an application seeking work authorisation and only need a document that authorises their employment in order to use as evidence of legal employment.
Who filed the class-action lawsuit that led to this policy?
A class-action lawsuit had been filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), representing immigrant spouses earlier this year. The Department of Homeland Security reached a settlement with the AILA.
The AILA put a statement regarding their victory.
"Although this is a giant achievement, the parties' agreement will further result in a massive change in position for the USCIS, which now recognises that L-2 spouses enjoy automatic work authorisation incident to status. Meaning, these spouses of executive and managers will no longer have to apply for employment authorisation prior to working in the United States."
(With inputs from PTI, the Indian Express, and the Financial Express)