Dear Harr :
Thank you for contacting me to share your story and express your views about the ineligibility of H-4 visa holders for employment in the United States. It is helpful for me to have your feedback on this matter, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
I recognize your frustration that H-4 visa holders may not be employed in the United States. The number of employment-based U.S. visas is limited by annual visa caps, with the purpose of protecting American workers. H-4 visas are issued to the families of immigrants who have been authorized to work in the United States under the H-1B visa program. Currently, H-4 visa holders can only be financially supported by the principal H-1B visa holder.
On April 16, 2013, a bipartisan group of eight Senators introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation, known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744). You may be pleased to know that this legislation would allow H-1B spouses to work in the United States. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be able to suspend employment authorization for H-4 visa holders from countries that do not have reciprocal policies in place to permit American spouses of employment-based nonimmigrant visa holders to work while in those countries.
The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member. The Committee met several times throughout the month of May to debate the bill and vote on more than 200 amendments. On May 21, I voted for this bill, which the committee passed by a vote of 13 to 5 for consideration by the full Senate. Please know that I will be mindful of your views as the full Senate debates the bill.
It is tremendously helpful for me to hear suggestions from constituents about how Congress can act to improve this country’s immigration policy and I will be certain to keep your views in mind. I am encouraged by the work of the bipartisan Senate group and I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on this issue in the weeks ahead.
Once again, thank you for your letter. If you have any additional comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available at my website, Feinstein.senate.gov. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list. Click here to sign up. And please visit my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to communicate with me.