The Department of Homeland Security has notified the courts that the draft rule to rescind H-4 work authorization, one that was supposed to be announced by February, then postponed to June 2018, was still being finalized. The rule was originally implemented in 2015 under the Obama Administration, permitted certain H-4 spouses to secure work authorization if the H-1B nonimmigrant spouse was the principal beneficiary of an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or had been granted H-1B status under sections 1069a) and (b) of AC21. It is expected that the Trump Administration will terminate the issuance of work permits to H-4 visa holders in light of the president’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which mandated a review of existing immigration policies, prioritizing the preservation of American Jobs.

There is no update at this time on when the draft proposal will be published. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, organizations and individuals are expected to have an opportunity to provide feedback during a public comment period, which is typically 30-60 days long. After the public comment period closes, DHS will review the feedback it receives and prepare to issue a final rule to rescind the program. DHS does take the feedback it receives seriously and have been known to reverse decisions based on the information they received, seen as recently as the decision to reverse STEM OPT third party placement issued on August 20. There is no set timeframe for publication of a final rule.

This update does not have an immediate impact on H-4 visa holders at this time. USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate new H-4 EAD applications and renewal under the current laws until the new regulation if finalized and implemented, a process that can take several months. To learn more about H-1B visa requirements, please click here, to learn more about other options for working in the United States, please click here.

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