H-4 Visa change: If Trump goes ahead, wives and husbands of Indian IT workers in US will not get any jobs
The US President Donald trump is no fan of immigrants. This is well known. But given that it is the USA, the Trump government still has to play by the rules. The rules allow a lot of leeway to immigrants, which include hundreds of thousands Indian IT workers that are employed in the US through the H-1B Visa programme. Now, even as the Trump administration tightens rules for issuing H-1B visas, the US government officials are also seemingly pushing for changes into the H-4 Visa that will see the spouses of H-1B visa holders no longer qualifying for work under most circumstances.
The change in the H-4 visa rules -- it may happen in less than three months from now -- will majorly hit the wives and husbands of Indian H-1B visa holders. The number of people affected by the change in the H-4 rules could be as high as 70,000 and most of them are going to be Indians.
The idea it seems is that the Trump government wants to restrict the headcount of non-US employees in US multinationals and tech companies. The government has been tightening the rules for foreign workers with stricter H-1B visa process but now it also wants to change the H-4 rule, which was originally introduced in 2015.
H-4 visa rule from 2015
Save Jobs USA, an organisation representing US IT workers, filed a lawsuit in a US court arguing that the H-4 visa policy that was introduced during Obama's rule has hit their jobs badly. The Trump government in September had assured the court that it would it give its decision on the H1-4 visa rule in the next three months. It has requested the federal court to keep the decision in abeyance until then. Trump has also assured that public would get a chance to respond to the proposal of revoking the H-4 visas.
The H4-visas are issued to only close or immediate family members of the H-1B visa holders. A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allowed work permits for spouses of H1-B visa holders who otherwise could not be employed until their H-1B visa relatives seek the permanent resident status which could take even a decade or more.
Now, Trump governments wants to scrap this rule introduced by the Obama administration and wants to go back to the old policy which allowed the H-4 visas to the spouses of the H-1B visa holders but didn't allow them to seek jobs or work in the country.
In other words, if Trump administration scraps the Obama-era rule, Indian IT workers using H-1B visas in the US will still be able to bring their spouses using the H-4 but they will not be allowed work. Instead, the whole family will have to rely on the income that the H-1B visa holder is earning.
If the H4 visa rule introduced in 2015 is gone, Indians will be the worst-affected. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, nearly 419,637 foreign nationals are currently working in the US and out of these 309,986 are Indians. A majority of H4-visa holders are Indians. An ET report states that as of December 25, 2017, the US had approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorisation for H-4 visa holders and 93 per cent of the these total approvals were for people born in India.