A decision on H4 EAD might come within two to four weeks.
The Department of Homeland Security, on February 20, submitted a blueprint to terminate the H-4 EAD — which allows H-4 spouses to obtain the Employment Authorization Document — to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. A review by the OMB, an office within the White House that is tasked with reviewing proposed legislation, is one of the steps in rule-making process, and it clearly indicates that the Trump administration is bent on scrapping the H-4 EAD.
Details on how the government will handle the existing H-4 EADs, or what this proposed regulation may mean for the current H4 EAD holders are yet to come.
Immigration attorney Rekha-Sharma Crawford termed the action as yet another disappointing attack on immigrant families by this administration. “We should know more as it goes forward,” she told the American Bazaar. “The details are not currently available but clearly the administration is more concerned about staying on political message rather than the impact this action will have on real lives and real families who depend on the additional income of the H-4 dependent to make ends meet. Employers and workers both are likely to feel the impact of this action, especially since the unemployment rate is currently so low.”
ALSO READ: End of the road for H-4 EAD program? (April 24, 2018)
Texas-based immigration attorney Emily Neumann agreed that the move would have negative implications. “The impact of this move will be to discourage high-skilled immigrants from coming to the United States at a time when unemployment is at its lowest and jobs go unfilled,” she told the American Bazaar. “Who would want to move to this country to take a job where their spouse cannot work until they receive permanent residence and there is such a backlog that it could take over 100 years for that to happen? High-skilled immigrants will look to countries with more welcoming immigration policies.”
Neumann also suggested that the administration has no plausible reasons to revoke the employment permissions. “USCIS data from December 2017 indicates that approximately 90,000 people had been granted employment authorization under the Obama-era rule that allows for spouses of H-1B holders to work if they had completed the second of three steps of the green card process,” she told the Bazaar. “Women make up 84,935 of these H-4 EAD holders, the majority of whom are from India. These women use this work authorization to support their families, including US citizen children, buy homes, invest in education, start businesses, and contribute to the American economy. They are here legally, pay taxes, and have done everything the government has asked them to do. The Department of Homeland Security has provided no reasoning behind their plan to remove this work authorization. There has been no evidence that his program disadvantages US workers. This EAD is not granted to all H-4 spouses. It is limited to a small subset who are one step away from becoming permanent residents, but cannot due to our outdated employment-based green card system.”
ALSO READ: H4 visa-holders’ work authorization is under review: report (February 7, 2017)
The OMB can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete the review. From then on, several steps would be taken. In a blog, Neumann wrote that the steps include an anticipated comment period from 30 to 60 days. The DHS will then review the comments and make a final regulation. Amongst other things, one can also anticipate lawsuits challenging the move. If the administration succeeds in eliminating the work permit, Indian nationals currently on H4, especially women, would be the worst affected.
But for now, the only relief the community can have is in the fact that one can still file for new H4-EADs and renew the existing ones.
(This post has been updated)
H4 visa: a primer (updated March 9, 2017)
End of the road for H-4 EAD program? (April 24, 2018)
Trump administration may soon end H-4 Visa Rule: report (February 1, 2018)
Tech industry urges USCIS not to cancel H-4 spouses’ work permits (January 19, 2018)
Trump to end H-4 EAD program for spouses of H-1B workers (December 15, 2017)
Trump administration asks for more time on H4 work authorization (April 4, 2017)
H4 visa-holders’ work authorization is under review: report (February 7, 2017)
H4 visa holders start to get EAD work permits from USCIS (June 29, 2015)
No work permits for H4 visa holders: lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA (April 27, 2015)
458,177 H4 visas issued in 6 years between 2008-2013 (February 26, 2015)
COLUMN: EAD cards for H4 visa holders: USCIS needs to give it to all of them(February 24, 2015)
EAD cards for H4 visa holders: green cards better solution, says IEEE-USA (February 24, 2015)
H4 visa holders can apply for EAD cards beginning May 26, 2015 (February 24, 2015)
EAD cards to H4 visa holders: Immigration Voice lauds Barack Obama February 24, 2015
H4 visa: a primer (December 9, 2014)
Final rule on work permits for H4 visa holders by December 2014-January 2015(November 23, 2014)
Indian women on H4 visas eager to get back to work (May 8, 2014)
Many H4 visa holders will get work permits this year (May 7, 2014)
For H4 visa holders from India, the X visa all-important (May 26, 2013)
BLOG: The H4 visa conundrum (April 21, 2013)