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Attys Gird For Potential End Of H-4 Holders’ Ability To Work

Attys Gird For Potential End Of H-4 Holders’ Ability To Work

Attorneys are bracing for proposed policy changes that could lead to the revocation of H-4 visa holders’ ability to work in the U.S., trying to minimize disruption to their careers by pursuing alternative immigration options.

H-4 visas are issued to the immediate family, including spouses and children, of H-1B skilled worker visa holders. In May 2015, the Obama administration implemented a rule allowing H-4 visa holders to apply for employment authorization if their spouses have been granted a one-year extension of their H-1B visa beyond their sixth year and have filed an approved green card application.

The Trump administration, however, is considering rescinding the rule following a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit brought by a group of U.S. technology workers called Save Jobs USA. That group challenged the Obama-era rule, arguing that the president does not have the power to give work authorization to noncitizens. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asked the court to pause litigation in that case until at least June 2018 when it projected to be able to release a proposed rule to rescind H-4 employment authorization.

The agency said in a December 2017 notice that it was reviewing the rule in light of the President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which aims to increase employment of U.S. workers and their wages. Any of the proposed changes will likely be open to a period of public comment once released.

In the meantime, H-4 holders remain in limbo, with their attorneys advising them to extend their work authorization while they still can and pursue other visas.

“These are not casual workers,” said Lisa Scott, founder and owner of Scott Global Migration Law Group. “These are people who have made a commitment to a U.S. employer that they are interested in forging ahead in a permanent employment situation. The proposed changes may affect U.S. employers’ ability to hire and retain H-1B workers.”

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