New Delhi: The Trump administration is planning to end allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the U.S., a top federal agency official has told lawmakers, a move that could have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Indians.
“Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization,” said the official. H-4 visas are issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders.
The move comes at a time when, according to a top Silicon Valley newspaper, Indian IT companies that were major beneficiaries of the H-1B programme have dramatically reduced their H-1B visa filings.
The move would have an adverse impact on tens of thousands of Indians – the US has issued employment authorization documents to more than 71,000 H-1B visa holders’ spouses, over 90 percent of whom are Indians.
“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,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley.
He said such action would comport with the executive order requirement to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system.” As with other revisions to regulations, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a notice and comment period, Cissna said.
In 2015, the Obama administration issued a rule allowing work permits for H-1B visa holders’ spouses, who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders sought permanent resident status – a process that could take a decade or longer.
The Trump administration is planning to terminate this provision. A former communication is expected to be made later this summer.