DC judge seeks status report on work permits for H-1B spouses

Biden administration asked to report by March 5 on status following withdrawal of Trump bar on H-4 EADs.

After President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of his predecessor’s move to rescind an Obama-era regulation allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US, a judge has sought a status report.

In an order last week, Judge Tanya S Chutkan, in the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, said that the report, to be submitted by March 5, should be accompanied by a proposed order.

Biden’s move is expected to save the jobs of tens of thousands of H-4 visa holders who have received work permits from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Over 80 percent of H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) holders are Indian nationals.

The status report has been sought in response to a lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA, against Obama administration’s 2015 order allowing H-1B spouses to work.

Thank you, President Biden for saving H4-EAD, but what about visa extension backlogs? (January 28, 2021)

“In light of recent Executive and Administrative actions, the parties shall meet, confer and file a joint status report by 3/5/21,” Chutkan wrote seeking information on three counts.

First, whether the current dispute has been mooted or the parties anticipate that it will be mooted;

Second, whether the parties wish to stay this action for any reason, including the parties negotiations over resolving this dispute;

Third, whether the parties agree that this litigation should continue as anticipated pursuant to the federal rules, local rules or a scheduling order.

READ: A timeline and history of H-4 EAD (January 27, 2021)

In 2017, then President Donald Trump had revoked the popular Obama-era rule. But Biden moved to bring it back in his first week in office as he had promised during the campaign.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) had informed that the proposed rule titled ”Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization” was being withdrawn.

In 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule allowing certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally seek employment in the US, it said.

This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in the country’s immigration system, as around 95 percent of H4 visa holders who have secured work authorizations are women.

H4 visa: a primer

As of December 2017, the USCIS had approved 1,26,853 applications for employment authorization for H-4 visa holders. Over a 100,000 of the recipients were Indians.


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