In what is seen as a major blow to the H1B visa holders in US Trump’s latest visa rules is putting an end to the prospects of 64000 H4 visa holders, out of the 71000 people who got work permit during Obama’s rule. H4 is the visa issued to the spouses of H1 visa holders.
According to a top federal agency official, this move could have a devastating impact on thousands of Indians.
Under the Obama administration more than 100,000 H4 visa holders have been the beneficiary of this rule.
As per the 2015 rule implemented by the Obama administration work permit was given to the H1B spouses while the H1B visa holders seek permanent resident status to work in the country.
Now it may be more difficult for the US companies to retain talent as the law passed is in contradiction to the initial policy which was put in place to attract highly skilled talent need to serve their clients.
A formal communication is expected to be made later this summer on the Trump administration’s decision to cancel the provision, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley. “Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility,” Cissna said.
Such an action will conform to the executive order requirement to propose new rules and issue new guidance to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of the US administration of the immigration system.
As with other revisions to regulations, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a notice and comment period, Mr Cissna said.
According to a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute, the US has issued employment authorization documents to more than 71,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders, over 90 percent of whom are Indians.
“As of June 2017, USCIS had granted 71,287 initial (versus renewal) employment authorization documents to H-4 spouses,” the study which was released last week said.
As per 2017 statistics out of those H-4 spouses with work authorization, a total of 94 percent were women, and the vast majority, 93 percent, were from India, while four percent were from China, based on the study.
The stringent of visa rules come at a time when Indian IT companies, which largely benefited from the non-immigrant visa programme, have suffered a major jolt after Donald Trump came to rule.
In an interview with Business Standard, Nasscom Chairman and Wipro Chief Strategy Officer Rishad Premji had earlier said: “Certainly, the consumption of visas by Indian IT companies has receded substantially. It can be less than 20,000 on a base of 85,000 (H-1B) visas available every year. So that number has come down quite substantially and will continue to come down as companies localize and build strong local workforce tapping them from the college level.”
However, the federal agency’s official site said that a petitioner can always expedite the FY 2019 cap by submitting a documentary evidence to support their expedite request.