United States President Joe Biden has withdrawn the ban on work authorisation for H4 visa holders, who are spouses of those possessing H-1B work visas, reported PTI on Thursday. The ban was imposed by former United States President Donald Trump.
H4 visas are given to immediate family members of H-1B visa holders, most of whom work in America’s Information Technology sector. H-1B visas allow US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
US’ Office of Management and Budget and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs had on Monday said the proposed rule, “Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorisation,” was being withdrawn. The website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs shows the status of the rule as concluded.
The work permit was generally given to H4 visa holders when their H1-B spouses were to receive a permanent resident card, also known as a green card, according to the Hindustan Times. However, thousands of families were left struggling to survive on a single income because of a backlog in granting the green card. In order to resolve this, the Barack Obama-led administration had in 2015 introduced the H4 Employment Authorisation Document rule.
Although Trump had announced in 2017 that his administration would rescind the Obama-era rule, it was not able to complete the process. Biden had during his election campaign promised that he would undo Trump’s move.
After Biden won the election, a group of 60 members of the US House of Representatives urged the president to “unilaterally extend” the validity period of expired work authorisation documents for holders of the H4 visas. “We respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security publish a Federal Register notice on day one of your administration that would extend the validity period of all expired H4 EADs (Employment Authorisation Document),” the members of Congress said in a letter to Biden on December 16.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services had as of December 2017 approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorisation for H4 visa holders. A 2018 report by Congressional Research Service showed that 93% of approved applications for H-4 employment authorisation were issued to individuals born in India, and 5% to those from China.