The Department of Homeland Security proposes to extend the availability of employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants. The extension would be limited to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment. This population will include those H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants if the H-1B nonimmigrants are either the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or who have been granted an extension of their authorized period of admission in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. This regulatory change would lessen any potential economic burden to the H-1B principal and H-4 dependent spouse during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, furthering the goals of attracting and retaining high-skilled foreign workers.
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As an immigration lawyer, I have seen hundreds of H4 visa holders suffer. Unfortunately the suffering is disproportionately directed towards women from India. While most other employment visas such as L, E, and TN allow spouses to obtain a work authorization, the H1 does not allow their dependents (H4 Visa holders) to obtain a work permit or even a social security number. The problem is amplified on the fact that H1B holders from India who file for a permanent residence have to presently wait between 10 years to 70 to obtain a permanent residence. This implies that people are now staying on H4 sometimes for 10 years.
Two years ago, we have started a petition on the matter, here is the link http://www.change.org/petitions/give-more-rights-to-h4-visa-holders to the said petition with more than 6300 signatures from Change.org with comments describing the pain of the H4 visa holders.
There are many reasons why the government should grant the H4 Visa holders a work permit but the main reason is that it is a matter of justice to grant the work permit to those who are waiting indefinitely for a permanent residence.
Moreover, it will make economic sense to allow the spouses to work. These talents are already inside the United States and we might as well make them contribute to the US economy. We are not only wasting the talents but creating a depressed and disappointed community.
I would say the “right” for a work permit is not only the fair thing to do but it should be granted as a matter of women rights and human rights.
As such I support this rule and would recommend others to do the same.
Thank you for considering this comment.
Shah Peerally, Esq.