Millennium Post

US move to abolish H-4 visas set to impact tens of thousands of Indians

Washington DC: Abandoning the Obama-era rule of granting work permits to H-4 visa holders - who are spouses of professionals holding H-1B visas, mostly Indians - will benefit some US workers, the Department of Homeland Security believes.

The Trump administration is planning to revoke a rule that makes spouses of thousands of immigrant workers eligible to work while in the US, a move that could impact tens of thousands of Indians.

H-4 visa is issued to the spouse of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. They had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration in 2015.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its Unified Fall Agenda released on Wednesday said it believed that abandoning the current practice of granting employment authorisation to H-4 dependent spouses would benefit some US workers.

The DHS said the proposed rule would no longer allow H-4 workers to enter the labour market early.

The DHS, which has already delayed three times this year issuing of the necessary notification, said in its agenda that it was on its way to remove H-4 dependent spouses from getting work authorisation.

In its agenda, the DHS said it anticipated that there would be two primary impacts that it can estimate and quantify.

First, the cost-savings accruing to forgone future filings by certain H-4 dependent spouses, and labour turnover costs that employers of H-4 workers could incur when their employees' employment authorisations are terminated.

"Some US workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold, as the proposed rule would no longer allow H-4 workers to enter the labour market early," it said.

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