The Department of Homeland Security has announced that the proposed regulation to rescind the H-4 employment authorization program is not likely to be published until Spring 2020, and that even this estimate is “aspirational”. For more information please click here and here.

This proposal is setting to terminate a 2015 Rule that extended eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who sought employment-based lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status. The rule, 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. The rule was designed to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers by permitting their spouses to obtain work permits, reducing the disruption to certain sectors of the U.S. economy (such as the Tech industry) that rely on H-1B visa holders to fill shortfalls in the employment market. By permitting spouses to work, the rule provided an incentive to highly skilled individuals to stay and work in the U.S.

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. However, eligible H-4 spouses can continue to seek employment and renewal work authorization under current rules. USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate these filings until a new policy goes into effect.

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