Trump admin urged to keep work permits for H-1B spouses

Six Democratic lawmakers have urged the Trump administration to retain Obama-era rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the US.

Published: 16th March 2018 06:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2018 06:05 PM   |  A+A-

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WASHINGTON: Six Democratic lawmakers from the Silicon Valley have urged the Trump administration to retain Obama-era rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the US, according to a media report.

A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status -- a process that can take a decade or longer.

Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision. More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have been beneficiary of this rule.

More than 104,000 spouses have been granted work authorisation since the H-4 visa rule was enacted, according to DHS's Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Democratic Congressmen Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Ro Khanna, Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee and Jerry McNerney in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary urged to "reconsider" his plan, saying it would "create significant uncertainty and financial hardship for many highly skilled professionals who are vital to our economy," Silicon Valley-based Mercury news said.

In their letter dated March 5, the lawmakers argued that in many areas where H-1B workers live, including Silicon Valley, "it is nearly impossible for a family to live on one income."

The move comes amidst reports that the Trump administration is planning to revoke an Obama-era rule under which spouses of H-1B visas were given work permits.

In a recent court filing, the Department of Homeland Security said that it needs time till June to take a decision on it. Earlier, Business and tech industry groups — representing Inc., Google, Visa Inc. and other companies — urged the Trump administration not to halt work authorisations for spouses of immigrants who have specialty worker H-1B visas and are seeking permanent residency.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is typically issued for three to six years to employers to hire a foreign worker. But H-1B holders who have begun the green card process can often renew their work visas indefinitely.

The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.


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