DHS submits proposed regulation to terminate work permit for H4 visa holders

Image via USCIS.gov

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 work authorization may be next on Trump’s hit list, says Sheela Murthy (March 9, 2017)

H4 visa: a primer (updated March 9, 2017)

H-4 and H-1: Time for Indian immigrants to speak up on immigration policy, says author Amy Bhatt (January 5, 2019)

New bill proposes to let H-1B workers switch jobs, H4 visa holders to work, F-1 holders to apply for green card (September 14, 2018)

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)

Regulations on H-4 EAD program on cards; may even be terminated, says Murthy Law Firm (November 24, 2017)

H4 visa-holders’ work authorization is under review: report (February 7, 2017)

H-1B visa exhibition at the Smithsonian: of goddess who gives visa, to women on H4 status in shackles (November 24, 2015)

H4 visa holders start to get EAD work permits from USCIS (June 29, 2015)

Save Jobs USA petition to not issue work permits to H4 visa holders dismissed (May 27, 2015)

DHS starts to accept employment authorization applications from H4 visa holders(May 26, 2015)

COLUMN: Save Jobs USA’s civil complaint against DHS to stop H4 visa holders from getting EAD cards is discriminatory (May 22, 2015)

No work permits for H4 visa holders: lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA (April 27, 2015)

H4 visa holders can start a business after getting EAD: Sheela Murthy (March 9, 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)

COLUMN: Obama’s speech has not made anything clear for immigrants waiting for Green Cards, H4 visa holders hoping for work permit (November 21, 2014)

COLUMN: Agony for H4 visa holders, as Obama’s executive action delays work permits (November 21, 2014)

COLUMN: As Republicans take control of the Senate, dream of H4 visa holders to get work permits, expedited Green Cards, is over (November 5, 2014)

Work permits for H4 visa holders will end mental anguish for almost 100,000 spouses in the US (June 10, 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)

DHS proposes to allow limited number of H4 visa holders work permits (April 8, 2014)

For H4 visa holders from India, the X visa all-important (May 26, 2013)

BLOG: The H4 visa conundrum (April 21, 2013)



  1. Tanay Mishra

    Bottom line is that too many Indians have been let into the country in the last 15-20 years, that are POORLY QUALIFIED, have no verifiable skill sets (but are extremely adept at faking resumes and creating fake personas for job interviews) and yet manage to hang tight thanks to the legal loopholes and clever lawyers that exploit others who legitimately should be in those jobs. Get it? Good. The sheer number of indians that have migrated or are trying to migrate to the US is just mind boggling – 5.3 million at last count. You do the math. And this is so DISPROPORTIONATE to the numbers of Koreans, Germans, Canadians French, Saudis, Japanese or any other nations that were admitted in the same timeframe – why are the #s so divergent? Doesn’t it reek of rampant visa fraud?? Does Silicon Valley really need so many Indian programmers? C’mon give me a break.

  2. To Tanay Mishra, H4 EAD is allocated to spouses of H1B visa holders who have applied for green card and have an approved I140. This means, the corresponding H1B visas have gone through all the verification steps and have been found to be worthy of stay in USA. These people would have got the green cards if not for backlog. The EAD allocation, was a temporary fix for a messed up immigration system, which propagates skilled workers to be abused by greedy tech companies. Yes, it is not H1B visa holder who is the problem, it is the greedy tech company that abuses them. Do you know, that tech companies love the delay taken for employees to get their green card? Because, during that period of waiting, the H1B visa holders are scared to change jobs fearing that the mess surrounding resubmitting of their H1B application with the new employer- they have to undergo vetting process again(RFEs and Rejection possibilities increasing with more and more regulation). The skilled worker gets treated like a bonded laborer. H4-EAD serves as an intermin benefit. Moreover, This work permit applies to only a small section of legal immigrants who work hard and pay taxes year after year. It does not making the US labor market crumble. There is nothing anti-American in this.

    • Tanay Mishra

      SN – if it is so arduous and laborious as you say, and makes you feel like a bonded laborer, then why come here in the first place? You really think the US cannot do without these people? Its rather simple labor market economics as I’m sure you’re aware of – because there’s a demand for low wage workers and because Americans won’t accept bottom barrel wages (i.e. slave wages) people from India happily lap up these jobs. BUT, and this is where it gets ridiculous, in doing so, they forego all rights and privileges they would have otherwise had, say were they here on a student visa. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  3. Tech Veteran

    Leftists my a$$. The ones propogating the myth of the “tech shortage” are the tech companies themselves. There’s no shortage of high skilled workers in America, just a shortage of those willing to accept sh!tty wages.

  4. Tanay Mishra

    To Emily Neumann – “WHY would anyone want to move to a foreign country to take a job where their spouse cannot work until they receive permanent residence … blah blah blah”. These kinds of arguments are so superfluous and ring hollow all the time. America is not a JOB STORE that anyone can walk in anytime and take up a job just because they got a visa. Get over it! I sincerely hope the Trump admin succeeds in cracking down on the visa abuse by India Inc. about time too. I wish Miller, Bannon et al are give more leeway in fast-tracking legislation that eliminates the useless visas once and forever. THERE IS NO JOB SHORTAGE IN THIS COUNTRY!! It is a myth invented and propagated by the (leftist) media to prop by the nefarious anti-American agenda they share with their globalist chums.

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