As told to the lawmakers by a top federal agency official, the Trump administration is planning to propose to end giving work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the US.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley, “Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility.”
H-4 is assigned to the spouse of H-1B visa holders. The H-4 visa holders constitute a significantly large number of individuals who are high-skilled professionals.
They had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration. Indian-Americans were the primary beneficiary of this provision. More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have been beneficiary of this rule.
According to a study by the Migration Policy Institute, the US has issued employment authorization papers to more than 71,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders. Among the 71,000 individuals, over 90 percent were Indians.
Additionally, Of those H-4 spouses with work authorization as of early 2017, a total of 94 percent were women. The study also observed that the vast majority, 93 percent, were from India, while four percent were from China.
Any discontinuation of work permits will have a significant impact on thousands of Indian H-1B workers and their families living and work in the US, and it is speculated that their green card application procedures can stretch upwards of 12 years.
The Trump presidency has been snapping down on immigrant workers since it took over earlier last year. It temporarily suspended processing for H-1B visas. The H-1B application for computer programmers was also made several notches tougher. In April, president Trump signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order with the promise of bringing jobs back to the country.