Discarding all petitions from different quarters to let spouses of H1B visa holders work legally, the US government is stepping forward to eliminate the Obama-era EAD work permit for H4 visa holders including the highly-qualified ones. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ director, Lee Francis Cissna hinted at it in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley, an adamant critic of the United States’ work visa programs including H1B for foreign nationals.
Thickening the clouds of anxiety for qualified spouses of H1B visa workers in the USA, Lee Francis Cissna conveyed implicitly that the federal agency is intent on revoking the practice of issuing Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to H4 visa holders. A public announcement will be made later this summer. If the Obama-era EAD work permit is repealed sooner or later, it will render tens of thousands of high-skilled Indian spouses on H4 visas jobless. Nearly 100,000 H4 visa holders, who are from India, are among the beneficiaries of the Obama-era rule.
“With regards to regulations in line with President Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ order, we plan to make regulatory changes to revoke the 2015 Obama rule and remove H4 visa holders from the category of aliens who are eligible for employment authorization,” read Lee Francis Cissna’s letter to Senator Chuck Grassley dated April 4.
The proposed withdrawal of the Obama-era rule for employment authorization of qualified H4 visa holders will have a devastating impact on those who are victims of domestic violence and loneliness, thousands of miles away from India. One in every three women on H4 visa is physically exploited and socially isolated in the US, according to Raksha, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization for South Asian women in America.
Early in 2017, we at Travel Beats, a US-based Indian community portal happily reported about USCIS’ release of a new application form (I-765V) for temporary work authorization for abused spouses of H1B visa holders. Those who got divorce on grounds of physical abuse or domestic violence were also deemed eligible for 2-year employment authorization. Our subscribers and readers hailed it as empowerment of abused H4 visa holders. But anti-H1B and anti-H4 groups did not let it be a success.
If nearly 1 lakh spouses of H1B visa holders lose work permits in the United States, they will be reduced to helplessness and become dependent on their partners for socio-economic needs despite having skills and qualification, in the world’s biggest economy. If H4 visa remains Victorian in its terms and conditions, the US which is often regarded as a land of aspirations and American Dreams will become a dystopia for the spouses of H1B visa, devoid of professional identity and freedom.
Travel Beats is a portal for Indian Americans by Indian Eagle, a trusted travel partner of Indians in USA. Travel Beats publishes the latest news and stories related to Indian community, young Indians in USA, philanthropy, air travel, tourism and immigration.