Two U.S. Senators have sent a letter urging the federal government to allow the H-4 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) program to continue.
Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) sent the letter last month to Kristjen Nielsen, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and L. Francis Cissna, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
According to the Senators, the H-4 EAD program “allows women who have relocated to the U.S. with their H-1B spouses to employ their education and professional training as doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, academics, and technology professionals, amongst other careers. Many of these women work in high-demand, skilled labor fields such as medicine, STEM, and education. They provide critical services to disadvantaged and under-resourced communities. They own businesses that create American jobs.”
Where Things Stand
Last year, the Trump administration stated its intention to rescind the 2015 rule that enabled some H-4 visas holders to obtain an employment authorization (work permit). The dependent spouses of H-1B specialty occupation visa holders receive H-4 visas. At the end of 2017, about 125,000 people—mostly women from India—had received authorization to work under the H-4 EAD rule.
A formal notice to rescind the rule has been delayed several times. In a court filing last month, DHS stated it now plans to submit a revised proposal to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review before Christmas.
After the OMB review and required revisions, USCIS will publish the proposal in the Federal Register. Once published, the public will have at least 30 days to comment. Then, USCIS, an agency within DHS, will make any revisions to the proposed rule it deems fit based on public comments before publishing the final rule in the Federal Register with an effective date.
We urge individuals and companies to comment once the DHS publishes its proposal in the Federal Register. Follow us to learn how to do this; we’ll post about it more when the comment period opens.
What to Do?
According to the timeline, USCIS will continue to issue employment authorization documents to eligible H-4 visa holders until early next year. Still, we continue to recommend that H-4 visa holders and their employers explore alternatives. That’s crucial given the long waits for green cards, particularly for individuals from India and China.
I’m happy to say we’ve helped many H-4 visa holders with employment authorization and their employers find alternatives. We can help you too. Contact us for a strategy session.