About 130,000 spouses and children of H-1B professionals came to the U.S. on H-4 visas last year. In 2015, President Barack Obama allowed spouses in H-4 status to apply for an Employment Authorization Document. Employment authorization allows individuals to work, apply for a Social Security Number and a readily acceptable identification card, provides proof of legal status, and can make it easier to renew a driver’s license. All of these benefits make life easier for H-4 visa holders and their families and provide them with more opportunity to pursue and achieve their American dream.
However, critics of the program say that the Employment Authorization Documents take away jobs from American workers. There is currently a lawsuit to halt the H-4 work permit program. Significantly, the current administration is also drafting a new regulation to rescind the program. Although it is unclear if the employment authorization documents will remain valid after the applications are no longer accepted, it is likely that they will for due process reasons.
In light of these developments, H-4 spouses are still able to apply for work permits. If interested in the benefits of having an Employment Authorization Document, eligible individuals should take action now.