What’s next for H4 EAD holders? Congressional action may be the solution, say lawyers

Image via USCIS.gov

“There are nine steps involved that are to be followed before a rule becomes a law, currently the H4EAD revoking is on stage four.”

Earlier this month, the Trump administration moved ahead with its plan to revoke H4 EAD, or work permit for spouses of some H-1B visa holders, brought despair and anxiety to roughly 100,000 foreigners — mostly Indians — currently on this visa in the United States.

On February 20, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services published a notice of its proposed regulation to revoke the program being sent for review to the White House Office of Budget and Review (OMB).

While the push back against H4 EAD began much before Trump took office and a lawsuit was filed within days of its enactment back in 2015, the current administration’ has been moving aggressively to scrap the work permit.

RELATED: DHS submits proposed regulation to terminate work permit for H4 visa holders (February 21, 2019)

But for now, everyone wants to know what would happen once the OMB reviews the case? There are murmurs within the community and discussions on immigrant visa forums on how swiftly, the revocation can happen and most of all if there’s any hope for H4 EAD holders in the current scenario?

“At this point, I would say, we are half way through the [H4 EAD removing] process,” said Amy Bhatt, author of High Tech Housewives and professor of gender and women’s studies. “There are nine steps involved that are to be followed before a rule becomes a law, currently the H4EAD revoking is on stage four.”

While OMB can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days for reviewing, experts believe that it is quite likely that it may wrap up the review in 30 days given the significance the administration has given to the issue. What will follow then is the publication of the proposed rule and then an opening of public comments period, which again can last between 60 and 90 days before the preparation of final rule.

“In theory, it could take six months before anything happens,” Bhatt said. “While it can be stressful for many families, if there is some relief then it is that no one is going to lose their jobs immediately. Whatever may happen could take up to half a year.”

RELATED: The human face of H4 EAD: How fear, uncertainty taking emotional and financial toll on lives (February 23, 2019)

On what can be the best route for the beneficiaries of this provision to follow right now, Bhatt said, “The current best bet for anyone who wants to save H4 EAD provision is to engage with their Congressmen. Congressional action can offer a solution to the problem.”

She said that there can be some movement in Congress, such as the “H4 Employee (EAD) Protection Act,” which was introduced in the House last month, to stop the revoking process. “All the Indian American congressmen have been supportive of H4 EAD, so a congressional movement is the best avenue to start with,” said Bhatt. “Trump has always complained that H4EAD was a federal rule, so if an action in Congress happens pertaining to the rule, it would be particularly important at this stage.”

According to immigration experts, a lot of anger is being directed towards H4 EAD holders also because of many misconceptions and assumptions about the provision. New York-based immigration lawyer Shivani Honwad told the American Bazaar that it is important for people to know who the recipients of H4 EAD are and how they are contributing to the country.

“A common misconception about the H4 EAD rule is that it applies to all spouses of H-1B visa holders,” she said. “That is not true. Per the USCIS website, this rule only applies to the spouses of H-1B visa holders who meet one of the following criteria:  1) Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or 2) Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21).”

ALSO READ: How Netra Chavan channeled her own frustrations to build an H4 and H-1B visa support system (February 14, 2019)

Honwad pointed out that the rule “only applies to the spouses of those individuals who have been in the United States for a period of time under a valid work visa and have maintained their legal status by paying taxes and not running afoul of any immigration or criminal laws.”

She added: “Many of their spouses are also well educated and instead of sitting at home unable to work, with the EADs they are positively contributing to their communities and also serving as additional tax paying members of our society. Revoking EADs for H4 spouses serves no legitimate purpose in my opinion.”

But if the rule is implemented what will be the likely outcome?

“We will definitely be seeing many families leaving if the change happens,” said Bhatt. “Many are already looking at countries such as Canada that promise more opportunities for immigrants.” She added that the H4EAD removal debate is seriously affecting families. “I know of someone on H4 who completed her higher education in the US, and worked towards setting up her own dentistry practice,” Bhatt said. “But today her business is in jeopardy.”

Honwad said that prior to the program granting the H4 EAD was introduced, many spouses had looked to further their education via F1 student visas or petitioned for their own work visas so they were not sitting idly. “Although those options still remain on the table for H4 spouses, there are additional costs and waiting periods which may be demoralizing or unable to be borne for some immigrant families subsisting on a single income,” she said.


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

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. Majority of the H4 EAD holders are working in IT field with fake resumes and most of them have taken full time jobs on less wages. H4 EAD concept was good, but what control/restriction is there to prevent frauds entering IT company

  2. H1 is the primary visa, H4 is the dependent visa. With this EAD rule, the H4 visa became stronger than H1- this is ridiculous.

    Also, with the absense of LCA requirement for H4EAD, there is no data or statistics as to how many are working as cashiers in walmart or how many are working as top-notch scientists in NASA.

    In order to bring sanity, USCIS should scrap H4EAD and ease the life of H1 folks. They have been assulted left and right for the last 3-4 years. Grant EAD to H1 guys as soon as 140 is done; not to their spouses.

    • The H4 EAD is only being issued to H1B holders that have their I-140 approved meaning they are already on their path to citizenship in the US. Allowing their spouses to work is pretty much justified as future citizens of this country can contribute more to the economy if they are financially stable. What are you cribbing about dude??

      • If you do not still understand what I am “cribbing” about, please read my post back again, and go back to school to build up comprehension skills.

        • then why is there L1EAD, L2 EAD there is not even LCA for their case not wage determination nor a masters CAP . if H4 is the problem, L1EAD, L2 EAD should go away too.

  3. I think it’s right time that H1b visas alongside H4 EAD program should be scrapped off. It will solve multiple issues at once:

    1) will stop fake marriages and all spouses who are targeting US settled matches will be better off marrying in India and won’t gain anything.

    2) It benefits Indian economy as the best of talent will stay in India and contribute to domestic economy rather than moving to foreign shores.

    3) All those spouses who complain that they can’t work because of visa issues can now work freely in India.

    4) All partners who force their spouses to go-to work just so they can pay off the heavy mortgages would be relaxed as they won’t have same issues in India.

    5) For US it will be very helpful, it will reduce load on resources as more immigrants mean higher real estate prices for locals and shortage of homes, so reduce H1b workers and the sky high real estate costs in NY will come down.

    6) It will be just for students who have been educated from universities in US. The jobs of Americans are stolen away by people coming to US from fake universities in Andhra Pradesh with fake degrees. These jobs will now goto rightful candidates fit for these positions.

    7) Everyone who comes to US to do jobs of Business Analyst and quality analyst with fake resumes and zero experience will be stopped in India.

    8) H4 EAD which steal away blue collar jobs from American workers from Walmart , target working at minimal wages will not be allowed to work and so this creates opportunities for the poor and labor class in US.

    9) All pseudo-feminists who raise the equality flag and in lieu steal the job from American workers just because they have H4 EAD will now stay in India and support the “Make in India” movement.

    10) No one will be able to pull this reasoning that how can you prevent the spouses from work. Well if they have to work they stay in India and work as much as they like.

    11) Whiners who complain that US is not allowing is to work better understand , US never sent you an invite , you have falsefully landed here with fake degrees, now better you don’t ask for rights for your spouses too

    • Varun Gupta – You seem very frustrated with life. Sound like a sad loser. Leave the H1 and H4 EADs alone. Just take a long break in the Himalayas…should do you good.. (i hope)

      • Well said ANDY Panda, I guess you probably think by keeping an Americanized first name you can fool US employers with your fake resume.

        Seems like not only did you steal away an American’s job with your H1b, which you got though your fake resume but now you want to enable your spouse to also do the same…good luck dude , you have been successful in grabbing a job which should have never gone to you.

        • Hey Varun,

          Why do you think every H1B holders are having fake resume like you? Improve your skills and please come with genuine resume next time. :) All the best.


        • Rohan Shah

          Hey Varun,

          you are deeply frustrated with life in general, why dont you go and get yourself admitted to nearest mental hospital and save people around you with bearing your existence.

          • Rohan…why don’t you guys just stop exploiting the H1b system and H4 visas. I work for a social networking company in Bay area and I have myself seen a bias towards hiring foreign workers. More so in my team too, I have seen my colleague hire someone who can speak his native language…why should that be the case, why can’t u guys learn to speak English instead of hiring J1b whom you can interview in Telugu language.

            When you were given H1b visa in our embassies world wide nowhere did we commit to you that we will also sponsor your greencards and also give work permits to your spouses. I guess the points which this guy raised are valid though his tone seems depressing , but I think 2hy don’t you and your spouse just pack bags and go back to where you came from instead of taking our jobs with your fake resumes. And best of all ..the guys whom you send to work for us, they do have fake resumes….a Java developer with 12 years of experience, if he can’t write a basic script then definitely either your education system is messed up or your resumes are sham.

  4. Guys don’t get hopes high, this is not going to get fixed.

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