DHS tells a court that the proposal is expected to be published for public feedback in June.
The Department of Homeland Security has notified a US federal appeals court that the draft proposing to end the H4 work visa program is in the final stage and will be soon be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.
In a filing to US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the DHS confirmed that, though it was planning on coming up with a ruling to end H4 EAD (employment authorization document) program in the month of February, it had to be delayed because it wanted to analyze the complete economic impact of such a move.
The department said also the proposal is expected to be published for public feedback in June.
H4 is a non-immigrant category visa that allows the husband or wife, and unmarried children of certain H category non-immigrant workers and trainees to come to the United States.
The Obama administration changed rules to allow certain H4 visa holders to request EAD, provided the H-1B worker, on whose dependency visa the H4 visa holder is in the United States, “has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment.”
ALSO READ: End of the road for H-4 EAD program?
A vast majority — more than 90 percent — of those who have received work permit under the H-4 EAD program is Indian nationals.
The status of the draft proposing to end the H-4 EAD program was provided during a court hearing in the case Save Jobs vs DHS, in which a group of US workers challenged the H4 EAD rule.
The case was dismissed by a lower court in 2016, but the plaintiffs appealed the ruling. The proceedings of the case were underway as the Trump administration announced the scraping of the Obama-era ruling allowing a section of H-1B spouses or H-4s to work in the United States.
Once the OMB review process is completed, the DHS will formally notify about the termination of work visa for H-4 spouses through the Federal Register.
The DHS will then provide a period of 30 days to 60 days for public comment, during which, individuals can give feedback on the ruling.
The comments expressed by individuals and employers will be a key factor in deciding the future of H-4 EAD program. If the public comments fail to sway the DHS the H-4 work visa program the fate of current recipients will be sealed.
The feedback provided by individuals and employers will be reviewed by the DHS to issue the final ruling and will take the call on announcing the final ruling on the H4 EAD, which is one of the Administration’s key regulatory priorities.
Despite of the administration’s move to shelf the H-4 EAD program, USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate new H-4 EAD applications and renewals until the final ruling comes into effect, which could take a few more months.