The United States on Tuesday announced that it would provide work permits to spouses of H-1B visa-holders beginning May 26, 2015, a move that is expected to benefit thousands of talented and professional Indian spouses who come to America but are unable to work.
Under existing laws, spouses of H-1B visa-holders, many of whom are Indians, are not eligible to work.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for work visas from H-1B spouses on May 26.
Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H4 dependent spouse receives an Employment Authorisation Card, he or she may begin working in the United States.
USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorisation under this rule could be as high as 1,79,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. The move has been welcomed by Indian-Americans.
South-Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) in a statement applauded the U.S. government’s move to extend work authorisation, effective May 26, 2015, to some H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa-holders who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
The USCIS, in a statement, said the Department of Homeland Security was extending the eligibility for employment authorisation (EAD) to certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based Permanent Residency.
Eligible individuals include certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants (principal H-1B worker) who are the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or satisfy at least one or more of the three conditions.
The conditions include that the principal H-1B worker must have an approved I-140 or be currently on an extended H-1B status beyond the six-year limitation based upon an I-140 petition application pending for at least 365 days (one calendar year).
“This decision is going to directly affect many of our life members as they would now be able to join the professional workforce and chase the ‘American Dream’,” the Telugu Association of North America said in a statement.
Recent State Department figures show that approximately 76 per cent of those who received H4 status in 2013 were from South-Asian countries.
“Many H4 dependent spouses have found themselves to be involuntary homemakers upon their arrival to the U.S., which not only impacts their family income and sustainability, but also diminishes their ability to expand upon professional skills,” SAALT said.
SAALT has called on USCIS to allow full employment authorisation for all H4 visa holders, as H-1B workers and their families are most successful when H4 visa-holders have the ability to contribute to their household income and the economy and pursue their goals.
“Today’s announcement is a welcomed first step that will dramatically help some families in the U.S. but the success of H-1B workers, their families and our nation’s economic growth is limited when only some H4 visa-holders are eligible for work with authorisation,” it said.
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