The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that its proposed rule to prohibit H-1B visa holders’ spouses from working will be published this month.
The affected spouses are on H-4 visas, issued to H-1B visa holders’ spouses and children under 21. Ninety-three percent of the 100,000 spouses on the H-4 are women from India according to research by the University of Tennessee.
H-1B workers are largely from India with long waits that can span decades for their green cards. These waits prompted the Obama Administration to grant their spouses the right to work.
The rule is reportedly pending approval from the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs with a deadline of this June 20. It is important to note that Homeland Security has failed to meet its own publishing deadlines many times since first proposing the rule in 2017.
Still, Migration Policy Institute Analyst Sarah Pierce predicts the ban is “inevitable” and will likely be published this summer. The government promises a comment period after publication.
This is the public’s opportunity to give feedback on new federal regulations and revisions before final approval. Comment periods usually last one to two months, but can span over six months. Homeland Security justifies the ban for giving U.S. workers “a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold.”
Kriti Agrawal is a senior manager for a pharmaceutical company in Sunnyvale, California on the H-4. She expressed worry to The Mercury News over telling her son to leave his school and friends for India.
“We had always considered the U.S. as a country which welcomes immigrants, which treats people fairly no matter which country they come from. This is my worst experience in terms of how immigrants are treated,” she said.
Arjun Verma, Managing Attorney at Verma Law Firm understands the growing concern among H-4 visa holders. “Spouses working on H-4 visas are uncertain of their future and worried that they will not be able to live here on a single income. They do not want to uproot their families and leave the U.S. and are interested in finding out their options to stay.”
The tech industry is a strong proponent of H-1B and H-4 workers as they provide a pool of skilled talent in a high-growth industry. Tech companies oppose the view that foreign workers unfairly increase job competition and drive down wages.
We hope that the announcement later this month takes this point of view into consideration. Watch Video: H-1B spouses: Bay Area tech workers fear they’ll have to leave
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