Spouses of H-1B visa holders may lose work permits in the US

Spouses of H-1B visa holders may lose work permits in the US
  • Spouses of H-1B visa holders are issued the H-4 visa in the US.
  • Indians constitute 80 percent of the 125,000 H-4 visas issued in 2015.
  • US wants to make this change to prevent “US workers from being displaced by foreign workers”.
After making the process of attaining an H-1B visa harder, the Donald Trump administration seems to be focusing on scrapping work permits for H-4 visa holders. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has backed that claim reasserting that they plan on getting rid of the provision that allows H-4 visa holders to work in the country.

H-4 visa holders are basically dependents of the H-1B visa holders. And, currently, the largest beneficiaries of H-4 visas are Indians. They constitute 80 percent of the 125,000 H-4 visas issued back in 2015. Step back and you can see how such a move would impact women immigrants since one out of ten H-4 visas are issued to females.

Lee Francis Cissna, Director of the USCIS, wrote a letter to Charles E Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, stating, “..our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility.”

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This decision would force the H-4 visa holders back into, what were called, their ‘Golden Cages’. It was a metaphor for being able to live in the US but without the right to work within the country or get a social security number.

The situation was corrected two years ago, when the Obama administration passed a ruling that gave H-4 visa holders the provision to seek employment while they waited for their green card to be approved.


Reports suggest that visa trouble won’t stop with H-1B and H-4 visas but also spill over onto the L-1B visa, which is issued to professionals with specialised knowledge. USCIS’ Cissna assures that the only reason any of this is happening is ”...to prevent US workers from being displaced by foreign workers.”