U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he meets with small business leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)  

Trump To Take Public Opinion On H-4 Visa Revocation Proposal

The Donald Trump administration has assured lawmakers and American companies that the people will get a chance to pose their view on a proposal to revoke work authorisation to H-4 visa workers.

H-4 visas are issued to the spouses of H-1B foreign workers. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa through which many Indians workers are employed in U.S. companies. It allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is the most sought-after visa among Indian IT professionals.

H-4 visas are issued only to very close or immediate family members of the H-1B visa holders. It includes the employee's spouse and children less than 21 years of age.

The Department of Homeland Security had said that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will come out with a new proposal by January 2019 under which it is mulling to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The U.S. CIS recently wrote letters to senators Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand on Oct. 16, posted on the organisation’s website this month. The two lawmakers had urged not to revoke work authorisation to H-4 visas.

The public will be given an opportunity to provide feedback during a notice and comment period on any proposed revisions to regulations providing employment authorisation to certain H-4 non-immigrants.
L Francis Cissna, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

The new rules could impact up to 70,000 H-4 Visa holders who have work permits.

However, the letter makes no commitment on the fate of the decision to revoke the work authorisation to H-4 visas, except for saying that the Department of Homeland Security is committed to safeguarding the integrity of the immigration system and protecting the wages and job opportunities for U.S. workers.

Harris and Gillibrand, in a letter dated Sept. 26 and addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, had said that the administration’s proposal to revoke the employment authorisation would permanently force approximately 100,000 predominantly high-skilled women to abandon their professional careers. “This will harm the well-being of these women and their families and have negative consequences for American communities where they live and work,” the letter said.

Also read: U.S. IT Firms Claim ‘Dramatic Increase’ In Number Of H-1B Visas Being Held Up

In another letter dated July 23, as many as 34 U.S. legislators had expressed concern that revoking work authorisation to H-4 visas would “create significant uncertainty and financial hardship for many highly skilled professionals who are vital to the U.S. economy”. A group of top corporate leaders had expressed similar concerns to the Department of Homeland Security in a letter dated Aug. 22.

The H-4 spouses are “often highly skilled” and have built careers and lives around their ability to “contribute to companies here”, they had said. “ Other countries allow these valuable professionals to work, so revoking their U.S. work authorisation will likely cause high-skilled immigrants to take their skills to competitors outside the U.S.”

The letter among others was signed by Chuck Robbins, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems; Roger K Newport from AK Steel Corporation; Doug Parker of American Airlines and Stephen Squeri of American Express.

The U.S. CIS director also sent them similar responses as given to the lawmakers.

Also read: Three-Fourths Of H-1B Visa Holders In 2018 Are Indians: U.S. Report