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Spouses Of H-1B Visa Holders May Lose Work Permits – USCIS

Many spouses of H-1B visa holders had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration.

The US government is planning to end H-4 visas, which allow spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the US. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley dated April 4 said: “Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility.” The move could impact more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders. H-4 is issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders. H-1B visa is most sought after among Indian IT professionals. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers.

“As you may be aware, USCIS is reviewing existing regulations, policies, and programs and developing a combination of rulemaking, policy memoranda, and operational changes to implement the ‘Buy American and Hire American’ Executive Order (EO). These initiatives aim to protect the economic interest of United States workers and prevent fraud and abuse in the immigration system,” Mr Cissna wrote in the letter addressed to Mr Grassley.

“USCIS has also announced that it is working on two proposed regulations to improve the H-1B program. The first regulation proposes to establish an electronic registration program for petitions subject to numerical limitations for the H-1B nonimmigrant classification…The second regulation will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation…to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect US workers and wages,” Mr Cissna’s letter adds.

H-4 is issued to the spouse of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. Many spouses of H-1B visa holders had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration.

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