indica News Bureau –
Hope seems to flicker for some 100,000 Indian spouses of H-1B visa holders with the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, agreeing to hear a lawsuit challenging their work authorization.
A group called ‘Save Jobs USA’ took the matter to the appeals court after a district court upheld the Barack Obama administration’s decision in 2015 that allowed H-4 visa-holders to be gainfully employed in the US.
While the notification on the matter is yet to be issued, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it is determined to revoke work authorization to certain categories of H-4 visa holders.
H-4 visas are issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members — spouse and children under 21 years of age — of the holder of H-1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.
In its order on December 17, the appeals court ordered the motion to schedule a briefing and oral argument be granted and this case challenging work authorization to H-4 visa holders “be removed from abeyance.”
The case is before a three-member bench, which includes Indian-American Sree Srinivasan.
In its submission, Save Jobs USA said that “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
It added that the longer the case remains in abeyance, the longer American workers will “suffer injury from the presence of foreign competitors in their job market”.
The latest court order said the new briefs must be submitted by Save Jobs USA by January 16.
The Trump administration has time till February 22 to file its response.
Meanwhile, the appeals court also granted permission to non-profit organization ‘Immigration Voice’ to intervene in the case.
“This is a major development because the Court of Appeals does not typically allow a party to intervene at the appellate level and it is significant that the court granted our motion to intervene,” said Immigration Voice.
“That indicates the court has some concern (and with good reasons) that our interests will not be adequately represented by the DHS/Government,” it said.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
Spouses of H-1B visa holders are not allowed to work with only an H-4 visa. There is, however, an option to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) which allows them to work with an H-4 visa.
The tightening of visa guidelines comes amid allegations that outsourcing firms, such as Infosys, have conspired to obtain H-1B visas for Indian workers.
Any major change in visa policy is sure to affect Indo-US bilateral ties.