A University of Tennessee study reveals how H4-EAD work restrictions affect H-1B visa holders’ work life.
As the spring deadline for Trump administration’s plans to revoke H4 EAD work permits for techie spouses approaches, thousands of Indians in the US on H1-B visas are worried about their future.
The fact that an Obama era rule that permitted spouses of those on H-1B visas with approved I-140 to work has been contributing to the US economy has often been highlighted. Now a new study reveals how restrictive work permits can negatively impact the personal and professional lives of H-1B workers and their spouses.
The study titled, “Impact of spousal work restrictions on expatriates’ work life and overall life satisfaction,” establishes that spousal dissatisfaction has been one of the top reasons for expatriate assignment failure.
The study was conducted by Pooja Vijaykumar, a researcher at Kemmy Business School, Limerick, Ireland and Christopher Cunningham, a professor at Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee.
Talking to the American Bazaar on the key finding of the study, Pooja Vijaykumar says, “We found spousal work restrictions to negatively affect expatriates’ work role and, in turn reducing their overall life satisfaction.
“We identified six core classes of challenges faced by spouses of expatriates: wasted skills, financial issues, boredom, social isolation, quality time and domestic tension.”
“Due to domestic shortage of software-related skills,” the study noted, “Indian citizens are top recipients of H-1B visas accounting for 74% of the 345,000 petitions approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS; Migration Policy Institute, 2017).”
“Despite the importance and value of this population, the well-being of these expatriates is threatened within the current complex American political climate,” it said.
Under the Obama administration, H4-dependent spouses of expatriates on H-1B visa with I-140 approval were granted work permits in 2015.
However, under the Trump administration, the USCIS is planning to reverse the 2015 final rule that granted eligibility and cancel work permits for dependent spouses.
Based on this new eligibility rule, it is estimated between 90,000 and 100,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders will lose their jobs. Over 90% of these spouses are women who held successful jobs and often advanced degrees in their native country.
On how the reversal of the permit, if that happens affect millions, Vijaykumar says, “Given these issues we anticipate the situation that may develop in coming months will be more critical and difficult for expatriate families than what was experienced in 2014.
“Many of these individuals who were temporarily benefited by the Obama presidential administration’s immigration policies may have, in this time, bought a home or started their own businesses.”
“These major life events may soon have to be reversed or undone in some way if spousal work permits are cancelled,” she said.
“It is also important to note that the unpredictability of these impending changes to American visa restrictions will not only cause financial strain, but is already also causing psychological burden on families, particularly the spouses of expatriates in these families.”
“Furthermore, cancelling work permits for spouses could negatively affect business operations for major IT companies,” Vijaykumar said.
Researchers hope that sharing this research may encourage policy makers to more fully consider the implications of visa-related policy changes on expatriates’ spouses, families, employing organizations, and broader communities.
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)