Wives of H1-B holder waiting for Biden’s decision on H-4 visa status


Last week the Biden administration decided to withdraw the immigration rules from the Trump era. In view of the decision, now a US court has asked for a joint status report by March 4 on the prospects of work authorization for H-4 visa.

H-4 visas are issued to immediate family members of H-1B visa holders, and most of them being the spouses who want to join their partner in the new country.

Judge Tanya S Chutkan, in the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, said that the report, to be submitted by March 4, shall be accompanied by a proposed order as appropriate.

In lieu of protecting the jobs from the migrant professionals and their family members, Trump, in 2017, revoked the popular Obama-era rule that gave employment authorization cards to spouses of foreign professionals on H-1B visas.

But the Trump administration couldn’t complete the process in the four years of its rule. And now President Biden is making all the moves on bringing back the Obama-era rule as he had promised during the campaign.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) had said that the proposed rule titled ”Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization” was being withdrawn.

Judge Chutkan said: “In light of recent Executive and Administrative actions, the parties shall meet, confer and file a joint status report by 3/5/21 advising the court: 1) whether the current dispute has been mooted or the parties anticipate that it will be mooted; 2) whether the parties wish to stay this action for any reason, including the parties” negotiations over resolving this dispute; or 3) whether the parties agree that this litigation should continue as anticipated pursuant to the federal rules, local rules or a scheduling order”.

In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule allowing certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally seek employment in the US, the letter said.

This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in the country’s immigration system, as around 95 percent of H4 visa holders who have secured work authorizations are women.

As of December 2017, the USCIS had approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorization for H-4 visa holders.