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H1-B visa holders' spouses make US more attractive for foreign talent: Report

Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B workers, who are in the process for becoming permanent residents, have been allowed to work.

Reported by: PTI, Washington [ Published on: March 30, 2018 10:12 IST ]
Picture for representational purpose

Picture for representational purpose

The Trump administration's proposal to withdraw the provision of giving work permits to the spouses of the H-1B visa workers, most of them Indians, will make America less attractive for foreign talent, according to an influential US immigration advocacy body. 

Since 2015, the spouses of H-1B workers, who are in the process for becoming permanent residents, have been allowed to work. However, the Trump administration is considering rescinding this policy of the previous Obama administration, the the American Immigration Council said on Thursday. 

"This policy makes the United States a more appealing place for foreign professionals considering H-1Bs because their spouses who come on H-4 visas can continue their careers and contribute to the family income," it said in a new report.

Arguing against Trump administration's reported move to rescind its policy on H-4 visas, which is issued to the dependents of H-1B visa holders, the council said authorising H-4 spouses to work is advantageous as it allows them to work and brings the US in line with other countries competing to attract talented foreign nationals.

The highly-skilled individuals US employers hope to attract and employ on a H-1B non immigrant visa often have a spouse or family to consider.

The potential worker may have a spouse with an established career or a family needing the support of two working parents, it said.

"If a spouse retains the option of being employed, the US employer can provide a more appealing and competitive job offer," it said.
According to the council, the US government has provided work authorisation to 105,000 H-4 applicants since 2015.

Unlike H-1B visa holders, work authorisation for eligible H-4 spouses is unrestricted, meaning that the H-4 dependents can work for any employer.

Yet their work authorisation, like their immigration status, is dependent on the H-1B worker maintaining a valid immigration status.

The H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order last year that outlined changes to the employment eligibility for H-4 spouses.

It announced the administration's intent to revoke the regulation permitting certain H-4 spouses to apply for work authorisation.

The regulatory agenda published in Fall 2017 reaffirmed this intention, though few details have been made available.

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