For H4-EAD holders in non-STEM field, the journey to find a job is even more difficult

Image via USCIS.gov

According to a recent SAAPRI survey, for H4 EAD holders in non-STEM fields job prospects are very few. Nearly 10 percent of EAD holders still remain jobless. 

Anadita S. (name changed on request) came to the United States on an H-4 visa. An artist by profession, the 28-year-old hoped that she would be able to pursue her career in this country after she gets her work authorization.

But Anadita was in for a rude shock. Once she began her job hunt, she realized that most people willing to offer jobs to those on H4 EAD were from information technology fields. “I was puzzled to see that in a country teeming with art galleries and art appreciation programs, there was a dearth of jobs for those of us who were on work authorization,” she said. “When I began talking to fellow immigrants, almost all of them suggested that I switch to STEM-related fields to increase my chances of finding a job.”

For Anadita, who was already a mid-career professional, this was a challenging prospect. Also, this would mean that she would have to go back to school again. “If I were to enroll in a school, it would mean additional financial toll on the family,” she said. “Also, with so much noise about H-4 EAD getting revoked, what is the guarantee that I would be able to work after making this financial and professional investment?”

While a lot has been written about H-4 EAD holders and how the pending decision on the status of work permits for dependent spouses is affecting families financially and emotionally, there is another category of mostly women on H-4 visas who find it all the more difficult to secure a job even with a valid work permit.

A recent study on H-4 EAD holders in the country also confirmed that many EAD holders find it difficult to secure jobs matching their professional profiles and are left to start all over again or invest in a college education to re-orient their skills.

The Chicago-based South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), in a recent report on the impact of H-4 work authorization policies on immigrant women, families and communities, noted that not all EAD holders are able to utilize their education and skills by working on a EAD.

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The report, Defying Dependence, revealed that while H-4EAD holders have high levels of educational qualifications, 21 percent of H-4ead holders were unable to find work in their desired fields or switched fields to secure employment.

The survey revealed that 63 percent of H-4 visa holders indicated that their job search after receiving their EAD was difficult. Only 21 percent found the process to be easy, while 16 percent remained neutral.

The survey revealed greater difficulties for those in non-STEM fields. It documented first-hand accounts from those who do not have a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), who make up over 50 percent of H-4 EAD holders and have even greater job insecurity.

Take the case of Varsha H., who had an experience in public relations in India. When she obtained her work permit, there were not many employers that would entertain her based on her visa status. “People also told me things like that IT employers understand the shaky nature of work permits currently and are more accommodating, others do not even bother to get into this,” she said.

The SAPRI survey results obtained from the data of the participating work permit holders reveal, that while 36.4 percent of respondents were in IT field, 11.1 percent were in business and HR, 8.1 percent were in science and healthcare and 6.1 percent were in engineering. Despite their academic qualifications distressingly 10.1 percent remained jobless.

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