Ray of hope for H-4 visa holders

AuthorPublished: 19th Nov 2018  12:14 amUpdated: 18th Nov 2018  10:49 pm

There is a ray of hope for thousands of Indians pursuing Dollar dreams in the Land of Opportunity as a legislation has been introduced in the US Congress, now dominated by Democrats, to prevent the Donald Trump administration from revoking the work authorisation of spouses of H1-B visa holders. Two Democratic Lawmakers Anna G Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren have introduced the H-4 Employment Protection Act amid determination by the Trump administration to revoke an Obama-era rule that extends work authorisation to spouses of H-1B visa holders. The Trump administration’s order, eliminating the benefit, would impact many immigrants, particularly Indians. H-4 visas are issued to the spouses of H-1B foreign workers. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa used by Indians workers employed in US companies. It allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is the most sought-after visa among Indian IT professionals. H-4 visas are issued only to very close or immediate family members of H-1B visa holders. Since the Obama-era executive notice, issued in 2015, over one lakh workers, mostly Indian women, received employment authorisation, improving America’s competitiveness and lessening the economic burden on thousands of H-1B workers and their families. The H-4 Employment Protection Act, now before the US Congress, prohibits the Trump administration from revoking work authorisation permit. The government must realise that protecting work authorisation for H-4 visa holders is a matter of both economic fairness and family unity. Prohibiting H-1B dependent spouses from working will bring no benefit to the country.

There are an estimated 1.27 lakh working spouses of immigrants, nearly 93% of them being Indians. The revocation of H-4 visas is in tune with Trump’s campaign promise of visa reforms to protect the interests of local Americans. The present changes are being made in the light of Trump’s ‘Buy American and Hire American’ order issued earlier last year. The new curbs could potentially crush the dreams of several Indians pursuing careers in the US. It must be noted that thousands of Indians, who started businesses in the US, have been contributing significantly to the economy. The restrictive visa regulations would push the future plans of such hardworking individuals into jeopardy. More restrictions appear to be on the way as there are plans to revise the definition of what occupations are eligible for the program. The Trump administration’s plan to overhaul the H-1B programme has already caused alarm in India which accounts for 70% of all H-1B workers. As a country of immigrants in need of highly skilled workers, America cannot afford to be inconsistent and whimsical on visa rules as such an approach could discourage great talent from wanting to enter the country.