Work permit holders demand premium processing for H-4 EAD and L2 EAD, cancellation of biometrics.
Nina Sharma has been a star performer at a Seattle-based software firm where she worked, having received a promotion recently. She has been consistently doing great at her job that she has held for six years.
But last December the Seattle resident had to quit her job because her H-4 work permit extension did not come in time. “When I applied for H-4 EAD extension, I hoped that like every other year I would receive it in 3-4 months,” she told The American Bazaar. “But it’s been more than six months and I haven’t even received even a biometric appointment.”
Fortunately, Sharma’s husband, who is on an H-1B visa, received his extension on time. But Sharma was left waiting for her H-4 as well as H-4 EAD. The couple did everything possible to expedite the process and save her job they dearly need to maintain their lifestyle in the country.
“I raised service requests, asked for expediting the case and even met with our local senator to request for an answer,” Sharma said. “My employer wrote a letter stating loss to company due to my unemployment, we submitted our house mortgage papers, bills for our son’s daycare but so far nothing has come out of it.”
READ: A timeline and history of H-4 EAD (January 27, 2021)
Sharma’s case is not an isolated one.
Across the country, hundreds of H-4EAD holders are eagerly awaiting their renewals for work permits so that they can continue their jobs. The story is no different on the East Coast. New Jersey resident Shivani Shah, too, had to leave her job.
“New year began on sordid note for me as I had to leave my job,” she told the American Bazaar. “My employer has assured me that he will wait to fill the position until March this year. And if I get my EAD by then, I can rejoin. But since my biometric appointment too is pending, I am not sure if I will be able to save my job.”
While losing the jobs most of these women worked really hard for is enough to upset their financial stability, there are other social and familial hardships, too. Take the case of Rajani Kumari, who last visited India in 2018 and was hoping to visit again in 2020, as soon as it was safe to do so. However, since her H-4 approval is yet to come, she runs the risk of getting stuck there. “My son is a US citizen and if I were to go and there is any delay or problem in my stamping, I do not want to be stuck so far away,” she said.
When the new Biden administration rescinded its predecessor’s proposal to eliminate the H-4 EAD, there was an obvious joy in the community. But most of these H-4 visa holders who have work permits—a majority of whom are Indian women — say that the work is only half done.
There are two primary calls to action that the work-permit holders demand: first, allow premium processing for H-4EAD and L2 EAD; and two, cancel the biometrics.
The newly introduced biometric appointment wastes a lot of crucial time for visa holders, some say.
“Legal immigrants on pending visa status are losing jobs as their EAD cards are not approved on time during these unprecedented days leading to added unemployment,” said Netra Chavan, an immigration consultant.
H4/L2 EAD delays are leading to health issues for many spouses indirectly, said Chavan, adding that that during her interactions with families in the visa limbo she has come across many heart breaking challenges they have been facing.
“Many spouses were/are pregnant and suffering psychologically leading to complications,” Chavan said. “Plus, many domestic violence cases are also reported. Additionally, there are people who cannot visit sick parents or funerals of their own parents/relatives outside the country.”
Many legal non-immigrants on dependent visas or H4 visas are suffering psychologically as they are unable to plan either for their own-self, family or professional actions. “Life is halted and revolving everyday around the pending applications. If the delay was due to a pandemic crisis, it was acceptable but it seems like other ways, as other few categories get flexibility and biometric is waived for them,” said Chavan.