President Seeks to Take Away H-4 Spouse Employment Authorization

The Trump administration has continuously sought ways to deter lawful immigration. It builds its invisible wall through rule changes and executive order. The latest proposed rule is to take away work authorization for the spouses of H-1B visa holders.  Trump talks about encouraging legal immigration and embracing highly skilled immigrant workers, but this rule undercuts that idea.

H-1B workers are highly skilled professionals who most commonly specialize in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Their spouses are eligible for H-4 status. Since 2015, H-4 spouses have been eligible for work authorization while their H-1B spouse is in the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident. For many H-1B employees the permanent resident process can take years to complete.  While these employees wait out the long, legal process, their H-4 spouses can help support their families financially and find a sense of independence and purpose through their own employment in the United States.

Taking away employment authorization for H-4 visa holders would inordinately impact women, because 90 percent of H-4 visa holders are women. Furthermore, telling valued H-1B employees that their spouses cannot work sends a message that they and their families are not truly welcome. It makes moving to the U.S. to work a less attractive option for these highly skilled workers.

Many of our clients are in the process of obtaining permanent residence. As these workers build their lives in the U.S., we understand that having two financial earners in the family can be necessary to their success. This proposed rule will do more harm than good. It punishes skilled foreign workers who are putting their talents to use in the U.S. economy.

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