U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted its long-anticipated proposal to eliminate work permits for H-4 visa holders to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. That move marks the first step in the process of rescinding the H-4 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) program.
Details of the proposal, including whether USCIS will terminate work permits or simply not renew them, will be released when the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.
OMB must review the proposal within 90 days, or by May 21. After the OMB review and any revisions, USCIS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register. Once published, the public will have at least 30 days to provide feedback during the public comment period. USCIS will make any revisions to the proposal that it deems necessary based on comments. Then, USCIS will publish the final rule in the Federal Register with an effective date.
What Should You Do?
Sign the petition created by ITPro Alliance, asking the federal government to continue the H-4 EAD program. The White House promises a response within 60 days to any petition posted on its website if the petition generates 100,000 or more signatures within 30 days. The deadline for a White House response to the H-4 EAD petition is this Sunday, March 24. As of March 20, more than 35,000 signatures were needed for an official response from the White House.
We urge companies and individuals to submit their comments during the public comment period. That comment period will open once the USCIS proposal is published in the Federal Register.
USCIS will continue to issue and renew work permits to eligible H-4 visa holders until it rescinds the rule. USCIS accepts EAD renewal applications up to six months before the current document expires.
Although a Senate bill introduced last November would retain the H-4 EAD program, it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate. Therefore, we encourage H-4 visa holders and their employers to explore alternatives.
Reach out to us if we can help your company, your employee, yourself or your family determine the best path forward. We have helped many clients transition from an H-4 visa with work authorization to another status that offers more stability.