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Indian H-1B holders are having darkest time of their lives in the US

Monday, October 1st, 2018

The US President Donald Trump’s decision to ban work authorisation of high-skilled H-1B spouses may put 1 lakh people out of jobs. A significant majority of these affected workers are Indian-Americans.

The decision to revoke work permits to H-4 visa users will create a major impact on the US economy. Indian women are major beneficiaries of the Obama-era rule. Trump administration’s move is part of US President’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive campaign. In the latest court filing on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told the US District Court that it is making a solid progress in removing the work authorization of certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrant visa holders. 

The new rule will be submitted to the Office of Management of Budget (OMB), White House within three months. In the court filing, the department has urged the court to keep in abeyance its decision on a lawsuit filed by ‘Save Jobs USA’ group. The group claims that their jobs have been hit by the government policy that was introduced during the Obama administration.

H-4 visas are issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the family members of H-1B visa holders. The work visa program, which dates back to 1952 was designed to allow American companies to hire foreign workers. The program has helped in shaping the US economy over the last few decades.

Since the provision of the rule in 2015, a total of 1 lakh work authorizations have been issued to H-4 visa holders. Most of these are allotted to Indians, nine out of ten H-4 beneficiaries are women. Many of these spouses have moved to the US years ago. They can wait for the green card but the wait-times for green cards stretches anywhere from 12 to 100 years. A 10-years of wait for a green card is an incredibly long time to stay out of job market.

The H-1B visa holders and their families are having darker years of their lives. Apart from the psychological stress and family discord, the financial burden will immensely grow for these families. Nearly 60% of those living in the US are dependent on their spouses’s income.



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