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US Plan On Work Permits For Spouses Of H-1B Visa Holders In Limbo

H-1B visa scheme offers US visas that allow firms to hire highly-skilled foreign professionals in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

Work authorization for spouses
of H-1B visa holders was provided by former US President Barrack Obama.

The US has yet again missed the deadline to issue a notification on ending the H-4 visas, which are issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders, mostly held by highly-skilled Indian IT professionals. Earlier, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had informed a court that it was working to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding H-4 visas in June this year. H-4 visas are essential for spouses of H-1B visa holders because they allow them to work. Former US President Barrack Obama, under a special order, had provided work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders under H-4 visa scheme.

Here are 10 latest updates on H-4 visas, issued to spouses of H-1B visa holders:

1) According to a report by news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), at the end of the month of June, the DHS did not give any explanation for not issuing the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which would have formally kicked off the process to terminate work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders.

2) "I have no updates to provide at this time," a DHS official told PTI, noting that he cannot speculate on when a decision would be made.

3) As recent as June, the DHS had insisted that there was no change in its plans to withdraw the Obama-era rule of providing authorization to certain categories of H-4 visa holders.

4) In February, the DHS had missed a similar deadline when it told a federal court, which was hearing a litigation, that it anticipated submitting to the Office of Management and Budget for review and clearance the proposed rule in time for publication in June 2018. (Also Read: US Announces 15,000 Additional Visas For Foreign Workers)

5) The United States district court of Columbia is hearing an ongoing petition by Save Jobs USA which has filed a lawsuit against the decision of the previous Obama administration to give work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa workers whose green card applications have been approved.

6) More than one lakh H-4 visa holders have been beneficiaries of the Obama-era rule.

7) The 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status - a process that can take a decade or longer.

8) The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly-skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

9) Since taking office last January, the Trump administration has been talking about cracking down on the H-1B visa scheme.     

10) During his election campaign, President Trump promised to increase oversight of H-1B and L-1 visa programmes to prevent their abuse. L-1 visa also allows for temporary transfer of foreign workers in the managerial, executive or specialized knowledge category to the US to continue employment with an office of the same employer. (With PTI Inputs)

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