US to revoke all H-4 permits for H-1B visa holders in 3 months

24 Sep 2018


The Trump administration on Saturday told a federal court that it will revoke all permits for families of H-1B visa holders in 3 months, a move which will have a major impact on Indian women as they are the major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule.

Called H-4 visas, these permits are issued to immediate family members of H1-B visa holders, allowing them to live and work in the United States. 
The Trump administration, which is currently reviewing policies on H-1B and H4 visas, told the court that its decision to revoke work permits to H-4 visa users, a significant majority of whom are Indian-Americans, is expected within the next three months,
H-4 visas are issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing the H-1B visa policy which, it thinks, is being misused by companies to the detriment of American workers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its latest court filing on Friday told the US District Court in District of Columbia that it was "making a solid and swift progress in proposing to remove from its regulations on certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation".
The DHS said the new rule would be submitted to the Office of Management of Budget (OMB), White House, within three months and urged the court to delay a decision on a lawsuit filed by a group called 'Save Jobs USA.' The group representing some US workers claim that their jobs have been hit by a government policy promulgated during the previous Obama administration.
The administration has said publicly and also in its court filing that it wants to revoke work permits to H-4 visa holders, a significant majority of whom are Indian-Americans and women.
The Department of Homeland Security had filed three status reports - on 28 February, 22 May and 20 August. The next status report is due on 19 November. The DHS has informed the court about the delay in issue of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), adding that the DHS's senior leadership reviewed the proposed rule and returned it to the USCIS this month for revisions.
"Senior leadership review and the request for revisions is standard practice within the DHS. When the necessary revisions are incorporated, the USCIS will return the proposed rule to the DHS for final clearance and submission to OMB," he said.
However, 'Save Jobs USA' has sought an early decision from the court, arguing that the longer the case remains in abeyance, the greater the possible harm to the US workers.
Between May 2015 and December 2017, the USCIS had approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorisation for H-4 visa holders. This number includes 90,946 initial approvals, 35,219 renewals, and 688 replacements for lost cards.
"Ninety-three per cent of approved applications for H-4 employment authorisation were issued to individuals born in India, and five per cent were issued to individuals born in China. Individuals born in all other countries combined make up the remaining two per cent of approved applications," the Congressional Research Service said in its recent report, based on information obtained from the USCIS.

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