DHS proposes to allow limited number of H4 visa holders work permits

To encourage foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses in the US.

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By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to make the US more attractive to highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs from foreign nations, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose a new initiative that will allow spouses of H-1B visa holders, who have filed for an extension, to work in the US.

The announcement came in a press release, issued by the White House on Monday, which said that the proposal was part of several new measures that the DHS would try to implement in order to “streamline, eliminate inefficiency, and increase the transparency of the existing immigration system.” However, the press release implies that not every spouse of H-1B visa holders would be allowed employment in the US, saying that the rules would only allow employment for spouses of “certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas” that have filed for extensions.

Related story: Many H4 visa holders will get work permits this year

“[These are] several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness,” said the White House. “These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.”

The news came on the same day that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the cap for H-1B applications and petitions for 2014 had been reached in just five days, meaning that all of this year’s eligible applicants will go into a lottery system that will determine who ultimately receives the highly coveted visa. The H-1B is an immigration classification reserved for highly skilled foreigners coming to America for work, mainly in the IT sector.

Another proposal outlined in the press release is Entrepreneur Pathways, which is “an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.”

It was also announced that the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are “launching a new collaboration to empower entrepreneurial scientists and address the critical gap between fundamental research and the development of a commercial entity.” The NIH will create the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), for academic researchers and entrepreneurs, while the NSF will launch the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a mentor-driven program “specially tailored for bio-medical technologies.”

[This story was updated on 4/9/13 to clarify that the proposal does not, in fact, say that preference for work authorization would be given to spouses in the STEM fields.]

33 Comments

  1. Bobby Fizzicola

    re ” In an effort to make the US more attractive to highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs from foreign nations”. How will this attract new workers as their spouses as new H4 visas will still not be eligible to work, only those who are extending their visas? It might help in retaining people, but it will attract no one. This visa system sucks and is a throwback to the thinking from the 50’s when women (as I would wager most H4 visa holders are women) were considered lucky to be following their husbands around and be shackled to the stove. Time for a change…

  2. H1B Sucks D!ck

    go home H1B’s/H4’s, America has had it with your b/s and fake resumes. Looks like the visa party is over Fkrs

  3. Preethy Joy

    It would be really good if this rule gets passed.
    So many skills are hidden because of H4 work ineligibility.
    It is definitely going to help US economy.

  4. Strongly support this rule! So many ignorant Americans think H4 visa holders are illegal immigrants. We are as legal as u people are. Just because your ancestors came to US decades before and got their Green cards easily, doesnt specify you as the only high skilled class! Live and Let live. Let other people get the same opportunity, which you guys merely inherited from your forefathers. Have some faith in your capabilities!! If you are enough educated and talented, you dont have to feel threatened by anything else..

    • Mumbai Job Robber

      go the F home H1B job robbers, and take you spouses with you. America has had it with you and your fake resumes. Buh-bye!!!

      • LOL..u r a highly insecured fucking american..what’s the big deal about fake resumes?? Atleast they are working more efficiently and faster than u dumb morons.. I knw you americans have highly elaborated resumes, but when it comes to performing those skills, you act like clueless retards..Better work on improving your skills or you ll get kicked on your rear end by your indian boss and get replaced.. Buh-bye!!!! LMAO

      • If you are so great why can’t you get the jobs that the H1Bs are ‘robbing’ from you. Yeah, I am sure you are totally qualified to work as a college professor or a medical researcher. Go home and stay home fool…

      • Bobby Fizzicola

        If you are so great, why can’t you get the jobs that the H1Bs are ‘robbing’ from you? Yeah, I am sure you are totally qualified to work as a college professor or a medical researcher. Go home and stay home fool…

  5. moni garg

    H1-b spouse should also allow to work in USA like L1 holders. H4 holders also have same knowledge but only because of lack of no one sponersering their h1-b they are not able to work. US government must think, how h4 holders feels when they see their carrier going to end.
    H4 holder should be independent for work. They shouldn’t be wound with their spouse visa status like h1b or green card.

  6. Truther Pleaseea

    The Indian media is misrepresenting the facts. It is misleading the Indian Public. The rule is only a proposed rule which will actually hurt H4 and H1 Individuals and only help and be beneficial to USA and it is only one Sided Rule. Please read the full post to understand the facts. I lived in the USA on an H4 and will be moving to New Zealand 2014 September with my husband (who works in the IT domain) because of all this nonsense.

    The problem is that USA is facing true talent issues – The first preference of a well talented IT guy is no more USA – The first preference is Canada, Australia, New Zealand then comes USA. This is because when you arrive at Canada or Australia or NewZealand Permanent Residency is granted within 6 months time and once Permanent residence is Granted your spouse can also work and your family can live like any normal family since you would not be crippled to live with the support of only a single income. If one chooses Aus/Can/NZ the Family will not be handicapped to live on the support of one single salary hence they live a well fulfilled life. Don’t be mislead with the fact that there have been 150,000 applications filed for h1b. (that application filing and all this nonsense is to generate revenue for USCIS) that is another publicity stunt by uscis and would need another post.

    To Create a sense of fairness (note only to create a sense of fairness) a misinformation is being created that h4 spouses would be able to work. The Fact is as per rule 1615. h4 spouses would be eligible to work 8 years after arriving in the USA. for example you are an IT professional planning to join work in October 2014. your spouse would be eligible to work in USA in October 2022.

    Let me explain once you arrive in the USA your employer MAY file for I-140 Application for green card after 1 year (October 2015) Theoretically you should get the green card within six months – like any other ROW(Rest of the world) person. Since you are an Indian (Only Indian and Chinese) you would be able to file for I-485 (adjustment of status) when your date is current (as of today April -2014) the current date is september 2004) that means people who have filed for green card in september 2004 have not yet received their green card until today 2014. So if you file for a green card in October 2015 you cannot get a green card until 2028. So just take the green card out of the questions. – forget it.

    What USCIS proposed (note This is only proposed) rule is once you have filed for I-140 and waiting for green card that is you (filed in October 2015 and waiting) and if you have waited for more than 6 years then we will permit your spouse to work after waiting for six years. So effectively you have arrived October 2014 and filed for green card in october 2015 and waited till 2022 then your spouse can work in 2022. Clear.

    So what USCIS means is until 2022 you have to live in the USA like a slave. with a handicap of one single salary. let me be clear here if you and say Ramu both IT professionals start off in October 2014 in a professional. Ramu Goes to Canada. and you come to USA. In Six months Ramu gets a PR (permanent Residence) . Social Security if he falls sick. Can start his own business (generate employment) if he wants, Can Buy a house because he is a permanent Resident and within the next 3 years become a citizen and hence if he has any of his kids who were born in India also become proud Canadian Citizens. so by 2018. Ramu is well settled. (add to this if you have kids born in Canada you get $100 Social Security benefit per month from the government to pay for the diapers of kids. you also get 100% Medical benefit free after retirement)

    let me tell you about yourself. you will live the life of a beggar in the USA, because you will be living on a single salary – your spouse cannot work. Taxes are high in the USA. with no benefits. if you have children born in the USA you will not get any benefits (no $100 social Security) but when a child is born in the USA you will have to pay $7000 Insurance deductible Minimum here. so you will be always in doubt whether you want kids or not…. (remember single salary, your spouse cannot work). you cannot buy a house because – you will be on h1b until 2028 (green card Remember) . you will pay social security tax BUT will not be eligible to any social Security benefits because you are not a citizen. so every year you would be paying around $1200 social security tax (now it is more because it has become 6% from 4%) so for 15 years you would pay $18,000 but with no eligibility of any benefits (social security is becoming bankrupt now anyways). Remember This is after paying a tax of around $8000 per annum on an average.

    Let me tell you about your children – if they were born in India they would be deported to India once they reach the Age of 18. because they are indian and your status has not changed.They cannot live here on h4 as they can no longer be dependent. so basically they would lose their status unless you would want to go to court with this and wage a legal battle. your kids would be basically American inherently (raised in USA) but deported as an Alien. Imagine what would be going on in their hearts.. they would be cursing you because they would be having friends … contacts etc here but would be forced to go back to India. so they would neither be American nor Indian. – Complications …. that is another story you gotta fill in the blanks yourself.

    Initially when you arrive here you would be awed by the cleanliness of the streets and the fact that everyone here has a car, but later your would be disgusted by the rotting dirt in the politics and frustrated by the bull shit of the media like the present uscis rule changing bull shit.

    what a sensible nation would do if there was an issue is tackle the issue and get it over with. But Not in the USA. If there is any issue (getting true talent to come to USA) The American philosophy is to look at the issue and see if the issue can be manipulated for political benefits. like this present one is done The President our Honorable President Obama has done – he has linked this issue of work authorization (people who have already waited for 8 years and are planning to immigrate to Canada or Australia or New Zealand) to Illegal immigration. Why? because it is politically beneficial as he is likely to get traction from different corners of the society. where as a humane solution would be to delink this issue and pass an immediate Ex Order.

    The second American method is create more bullshit – so much bullshit is created that people just don’t know what is true and what is bullshit. Like secretary Johnson is doing. Using words like “certain h1b holders”, “specific Candidates”, “Eligible candidates” . Generally A person like a secretary would be clear who is eligible and what is eligible and not try and trick people like you. USA wants talented people like you to come to the USA and make it the first choice and not the 4th choice after Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. so they should give you a fair deal. you come in and I will give your spouse a right to work and I promise you that you would get a Permanent residency in 6 months. But what is being done is creating a rumor mill where you are made to believe that you would be given certain rights but in truth you would be waiting 8 years before your spouse can work …. including the other complications..

    Would you make USA the first choice given the facts. ??

    Also note that Indians repatriate 70 billion each year to India – because of the green card back log situation? ask any Indian – if he has plans to buy a house or a new car…. the answer is ” NO WAY, not before I get my Green Card – I would rather stick to my preowned car”

    Good luck with the bullshit.

    • Atul Shukla

      Did your hubby had H1B, and despite that you preffered NZ?

    • Albert Mendonca

      I liked the comprehensiveness and passion in your post. You should blog this and kickstart a movement – by channeling your frustration towards fixing this, you could influence a change.

      There are many, many ,many folks going through this slave unjust treatment, but most are quiet about it – perhaps hopeless that nothing can be done.

    • Excellent consolidation of all the facts.I’ve undergone all the pain and still undergoing a lot even after becoming permanent resident.

      I pity on myself for undergoing this pain and thanks US media,corporations,govt and everyone for over evaluating yourself and stating that yours is number 1 country in the world and making people believe that.

      I’ve lost valuable time by going thru all this bullshit and given a chance to go back in time I would have never considered to come to US(the over evaluated country).I just want to stay here as I build my career here and there no meaning for my pain if I leave and go away.

    • Blog this. Start a movement. I think we need more intelligent people like you in this country. I’m a teenager on a H4 visa (my dad in on the H1B visa), and this is exactly what I’m thinking. I do wish my dad had gone to Canada instead of coming here.

      “Let me tell you about your children – if they were born in India they would be deported to India once they reach the Age of 18. because they are indian and your status has not changed.They cannot live here on h4 as they can no longer be dependent. so basically they would lose their status unless you would want to go to court with this and wage a legal battle. your kids would be basically American inherently (raised in USA) but deported as an Alien. Imagine what would be going on in their hearts.. they would be cursing you because they would be having friends … contacts etc here but would be forced to go back to India. so they would neither be American nor Indian.”

      That’s perfect. That’s exactly what I think. I grew up thinking I just wasn’t born here, and I could become older, be American, attend university, and pursue my career here. Now I know better, that I’ll get kicked out and have to go back to the dark hole that India is right now.

    • Bobby Fizzicola

      I am an NZer and I wish that I could afford to live there. However, NZ is too expensive for me to afford and there are no jobs for me anyway. So I am forced to work overseas. I wish you every success in NZ, but there are problems with most places, not just the USA…Good luck and I am a little envious of you…

  7. The spouses are not expected to be high skilled. They are issued with an EAD. They can work anywhere from making fries in McDonalds to a software engineer in Google.

  8. Alice Blue

    Allowing H4s to work in the US will hurt the IT profession even more. It will increase age discrimination, push out more American IT workers, and drive down wages even more. More fake resumes, more fake degrees, more imaginary skill sets. The only thing that the foreign workers have in abundance is an extremely high opinion of themselves. And the pointy-haired bosses can’t see past that.
    Foreign entrepreneurs start companies all right, but they usually don’t hire Americans. They commonly use their companies as landing strips to import more and more of their own ethnicity. At a time when jobs for Americans are scarce, this is the wrong thing to do.
    Not only must we not allow H4s to work in America, we should send home most of the H-1Bs.

    • Why are L1 spouses allowed to work in USA and H1B are not? Not allowing H4 to work is discrimination. Especially for a country like USA, who acts as the role model of moral and ethical, but in terms of H4 issues, USA does not do the right thing. This policy is against family interest

      A lot of people have a misconception that
      allowing H4 to work will hurt the US economy. It’s a no-brainer:

      1. Not a threat to the American workforce since
      %age is quite small.
      2. Lots of $$$ in taxes can be collected from
      these well-qualified H4 holders
      3. They’ll stop applying for H1s thus easing off
      the lottery pressure for the available 65K visas each year.
      4. Better late than never; imagine how much $$$
      the country has lost so far by stopping these workers enter the labor force!

      My wife is a Physical therapist with 3 years of experience as a consultant PT, with Masters in health care administration, changed her status to H4 to take care of the baby. She is now planning to work but cannot because nobody wants to sponsor her H1b.

      Stripping the H4 visa holders of the basic sense of dignity and freedom definitely needs to be stopped. No other country discriminates this way

      • Does this mean the spouse’s company will not need to do any sponsor related work? I am in a similar situation where my spouse is in behavioural therapy and companies just dont want anything to do with a visa. I wonder what the ‘extension’ catch is

    • this is another of those BS rules being proposed. I dont think the above changes is going to make US anymore attractive for”highly skilled” laborers to come to the US…… After forcing families to work for 6 years+ to be single income, suddenly one fine day apparently the spouses can work on H4 if their primary visa holder’s visa has been extended. Do you think they are going to get any decent job? Are you that insecure that you think all these people are going to drive you out of your job??

      Maybe its time for complaisant ppl to get moving and get more skill set instead of expecting hard working ppl’s taxes to take care of you.
      I think the H1 B is not a visa for highly skilled laborers, its masquerading as a new form of slave labor in the modern world….

    • Sara Reilles

      this is another of those BS rules being proposed. I dont think the above changes is going to make US anymore attractive for”highly skilled” laborers to come to the US…… After forcing families to work for 6 years+ to be single income, suddenly one fine day apparently the spouses can work on H4 if their primary visa holder’s visa has been extended. Do you think they are going to get any decent job? Are you that insecure that you think all these people are going to drive you out of your job??

      Maybe its time for complaisant ppl to get moving and get more skill set instead of expecting hard working ppl’s taxes to take care of you.
      I think the H1 B is not a visa for highly skilled laborers, its masquerading as a new form of slave labor in the modern world….

    • Albert Mendonca

      An H1B myself – you are spot on about the shameless and rampant fake resume rip off that exists today among many Indians (and other nationalities as well) that has brought quite a damage to the reputation of a skilled immigrant.

      That being said – many firms have learned that now and have a method of a reasonably fool proof interview.

      Also, understand that employment in IT is *solely* driven by merit – which is why there still are too many jobs to be filled, so you’re point of *taking away american jobs” stands no substance here.

      • Rip offs among Indians including the Microsoft CEO.. yeah.. the whole world is blind and you two have your eyes open. You both stoke your bloated egos and dream abt a world where you are superior and Indians(and others) are ripping you off.. Jesus christ you are a prime example of a bigot. Remember most of the Americans came to this land and call it home.. now you want to refuse that oppurtunity.. thats not what America stands for. This is not a sum zero game, there is plenty of oppurtunity for all.. Live and let live. And for goodness sake stop considering yourself better than whole populations or your Indian boss will kick your rear end.

    • Are you questioning the hiring process in the US? Also if candidates with fake resumes can perform equivalent or better than you, who do not fake their resumes in the workforce then I would say they are extremely smart people!! Does the workforce need people who are smart and can get the job done easily or people who have degrees on their resume and lot of work experience but unable to perform the job duties..

    • Also, would you prefer that we stay here and spend here rather than go back to our home countries or anywhere else, taking away your job and doing it at one-fifth of the cost?

    • i dont understand what is with this fake resume thing. Its not that only Indians do that, ppl from all nationalities do it. I am myself in IT since last 7 yrs. I guess Americans are feeling insecured and they doubt their calibre. I have interviewed so many candidates, Indians as well as Americans. And i can say Indians who may have fake resumes still perform their work much faster and efficiently then any american, who just elaborates everything in their resumes in a fancy way, but when it comes to performing those so-called elaborated skills, they prove themselves to be dumb and clueless. As a interviewer, my work is to select capable candidates, who can work 10-12 hrs straight sometimes to make sure the work gets done, and not clueless and lazy people who hardly works 8hrs/day and still expect their bosses to give them incentives! i wish i could fire such lazy retards and send them back to school so they can learn some discipline and work ethics..didnt mean to be so rude, but had to give an answer to some insecured racists here!!!

    • Are you so scared that other humans will take away your job? Oh, you poor baby. What about their children? My father is in America on the H1B visa, and I grew up in the United States. I’m as American as anyone else here. Now, when I become a legal adult, I could be forced to go back to India, where I do not belong in the slightest. This creates resentment in kids- I’m not allowed to be American, but I’m also not an Indian.

    • You should also know that before any foreign national entrepreneur can hire any foreign he / she has to hire Americans. Get your facts straight. If H-4 visa holders were allowed to work and even start companies, can you imagine how many more Americans would be employed. Moreover, can u imagine being in another country and not allowed to work just because the law doesn’t permit even if you are the best talent. Be human! It’s not that all foreigners fake in resumes and there is no guarantee that no Americans do.

  9. Note that this is not yet law. Many of us have been fighting to make this happen and we hope it will happen. Thanks

  10. “These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas”. The press statement does not say anything about the area of skills of the spouses, The “high-skill” part is that of the H-B worker

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