Washington: The US government announced that the spouses of H-1B visa holders will be given automatic work authorization permits. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy that prohibited H-4 spouses from working has been reversed.
The Biden administration's immigration-friendly move will benefit thousands of Indian-Americans. They can now benefit from the automatic extension of their employment authorisation during the pendency of stand-alone EAD applications.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said that it is a "giant achievement" and the agreement will further result in a massive change in position for the USCIS. "Spouses of executives and managers will no longer have to apply for employment authorisation prior to working in the United States."
Over 90% of H4 applicants are Indian women.
AILA had filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of immigrant spouses, and the matter was settled by the Department of Homeland Security. Jesse Bless, AILA director of federal litigation, said that the organisation is delighted to have reached this agreement, which includes relief for H-4 spouses, through our litigation efforts with Wasden Banias and Steven Brown.
"It is gratifying that the administration saw that settling the litigation for non-immigrant spouses was something that should be done, and done quickly," he added.
The new policy allows up to 180 days of auto extension on work permits for spouses of L-1 and H1B visa holders. They will still have to apply for an extension after their employment permit expires.
Jon Wasden from AILA said that the H-4 visa holders are a group that always met the regulatory test for an automatic extension of employment authorisation documents. He added that the move caused people to lose high-paying jobs for no legitimate reason. It was causing harm to the immigrants and US businesses.
The Obama administration had given work authorisation to certain categories of immigrant spouses. Over 90,000 H-4 visa holders received work permits under that policy. A majority of this group are Indian-American women.