After months of intimation and discussion on the changes that the Trump administration could make to the H-4 visa, last week concrete steps have been taken in this direction. The US administration has told to a federal court that it would come with a decision on the revocation of work permits to H-4 visa holders within the next three months.
The US Department of Homeland Security told the US District Court in District of Columbia through a court filing that it would submit a new rule that prevented this category of people from working, to the Office of Management of Budget (OMB), White House, within a period of three months.
The H-4 visa holders, which is a visa issued to spouses and underage children of H-1B visa holders, will start becoming jobless around Christmas, if the move finalizes by then.
According to a previous study carried by Christopher J.L Cunningham of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Pooja B.Vijaykumar from the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick, there are around 100,000 H-4 visa holders to be left jobless as a result. Most of those living and working in the US under this visa are Indian-Americans and women.
About H-1B visa & H-4 visa
The H-1B program allows skilled workers to come to the US and work for a certain company. It has been popular especially among Indians.
Whereas, the H-4 visa is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members of the H-1B visa holders, which includes only the spouse and children under 21 years of age. Before 2015, this category of visa holders were not allowed to work, but the rules changed during the Obama era, which administration introduced the H-4 EAD program.
Unlike H-1B, the H-4 status is not restricted to a specific employer and the employer does not need to obtain approval from the Department of Labor.
However, the Trump administration has taken some moves recently under the America First Policy, as the warned removal of work authorization for H-4 visa holders, tightening of H-1B visa rules and making it easier for USCIS adjudicators to deny H-1B visa petitions. It has also suggested the scrapping of H-1B visa, accusing companies for bringing to US workers to fill jobs that could be filled by Americans.
A recent case, when an Indian CEO was arrested in the US on visa fraud charges has contributed to the issue. Indian citizen, Pradyumna Kumar Samal, has been arrested for fraudulently obtaining H-1B visas and thus bringing over 200 foreign workers to US.
Moreover, in June this year, the USCIS announced that more than 5000 cases of H-1B visa abuse and fraud had been reported in 2017 alone, despite of USCIS efforts combat and prevent H-1B Visa fraud and abuse.
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