We have written previously about the administration’s proposed rule to take away work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders and the negative impact this would have on employees. 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.
The administration has been trying to eliminate H-4 employment authorization. A recent court decision to hear arguments on behalf of those that wish to challenge the legality of this employment authorization has further bolstered the administration. Immigration experts believe that USCIS may publish a new rule to end H-4 employment authorization as early as spring 2020. Despite 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 while the benefit remains available.