Currently some spouses of H-1B visa holders are eligible for an H4 Visa. The H4 visa does not allow the spouses to work or carry on their own business without obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”). However, not all spouses of H-1B holders are eligible to apply under the Employment Authorization Rule. Those who are eligible are H-1B visa holders on track for a green card – meaning that the green card petition has been approved or the H-1B visa has been extended beyond six years pending that approval.
Since the policy came into effect under President Barack Obama in 2015, more than 100,000 H-4 holders have obtained EAD’s and have been able to work in the United States legally. However, the Department of Homeland Security is set to publish a proposal to rescind the H-4 spousal work authorization by June 2018. The announcement will precede several months of review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and a public comment period.
The announcement will not have an immediate impact on the H-4 EAD program and it is likely the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“UCIS”) will continue to accept and adjudicate new H-4 EAD applications and renewals until the regulation is formally implemented. However, it may have serious consequences for H-4 Dependent spouses.
With the current Trump administration, the UCIS has stated that they are working toward President Trump’s platform goal of Buy American and Hire American and it is likely that the Department of Homeland Security will follow through on rescinding the H-4 EAD program.
Those who are currently facing uncertainty about the possibility of not being able to work in the United States may want to look to Canada. H-1B and H-4 visa holders in the United States may be eligible under the Global Talent Stream work permits or Canadian Permanent Residence under the Express Entry system.