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USCIS Signals the End of H-4 Spousal Work Permits

By May 24, 2018May 19th, 2021H-1B and E-3 Visa, Immigration
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In a letter dated April 4, 2018, The Director of USCIS Francis Cissna confirmed to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that the proposal to end H-4 worker’s authorization moves closer to completion. The H-4 work authorization visa (H-4 EAD) was implemented in 2015 under the Obama Administration, it 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. To learn more about H-1B eligibility, please click here.

The proposal is now in the final stages of clearance before being sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Once OMB completes the review process, DHS will publish a formal notice of the proposed rule to the Federal Register. Organization and individuals would then have an opportunity to provide feedback during a public comment period, which is usually 30 to 60 days long. Comments from employers will be crucial to make DHS aware of the importance of the H-4 EAD program as an asset in the global competition for talent. As the public comment period closes, DHS will review the feedback it received and prepare to issue a final rule to rescind the program. There is currently no timeframe of when this may occur.

This proposal does not have an immediate impact on H-4 spouses, USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate new applications and renewals until the proposal is finalized and implemented.

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