However, Jen Psaki’s generic answer does not satisfy all.
For a large number of H-4 EAD advocates, it came as a huge relief that the issue of work permits for spouses of H-1B L-1 visa was brought to the big podium. On Wednesday, during a press briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked by a reporter about reasons for huge delays in issuing H-4 and L-2 EADs.
Psaki gave a very generic response, focusing on fixing the immigration system without going into details of the delays. Nonetheless, many H-4 holders are pleased that the issue has been finally raised on an important platform.
“I am hopeful because at last the delays are being noticed and mentioned on platforms that matter,” said Nishika Jha, who is currently on an H-4 visa. “For the longest time, ever since the pandemic started, thousands of women continued losing their jobs because of H-4 EAD delays and there was no mention, no action and no concern shown.”
READ: Delay in processing of H-4 and L-2 spouses’ EADs challenged (March 24, 2021)
Pointed out that when she was a senator, Vice President Kamala Harris had “supported the cause of EAD” for H4 and L2 visa holders, the reporter asked Psaki why there are delays in issuing work permits.
The press secretary responded: I think part of the reason we want to push for action on immigration on the Hill is to move forward with expediting the processing and doing that on several levels, including a number of the visas that you just — just introduced or just conveyed. So that’s part of the reason why we think that’s such an important piece to move forward on.
For software professional Pooja Sharma, a resident of Seattle, WA, who holds an L-2 visa, this may be the start of something substantial. “I was in an H-4, L-2 chat group this morning and all of us agreed that the White House Press Secretary’s answering the question on H-4 EAD backlogs is like breaking the deafening silence,” she told the American Bazaar. “We look forward to what lies ahead.”
RELATED: H-4 visa delays are crippling everyday lives for many (March 12, 2021)
Sachin N., who lives in Atlanta, got his H-1B extension approved late last year. However his wife, a programmer by profession, still awaits her EAD extension. He is fearful that she may lose her job, if she doesn’t get the work permit extension soon. “Every day we spend a considerable time thinking what we can do to expedite the process,” he said. “From suggestions such as reaching the local senator to calling for an expedited request, we are torn on what, if any, action should be taken. So this comes as a nice surprise that at least now the talks have begun.”
Recently, Rep. Bonnie Watson, a New Jersey Democrat, had also posed the question of H-4 EAD delays to Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. He told the congresswoman that he would be happy to look into and “understand her concerns on the issue.”
A timeline and history of H-4 EAD (January 27, 2021)
While for many, both these instances indicate that the ball may have been set rolling, still others are skeptical if the issue is anywhere near resolved yet.
“I would say instead of rejoicing people should pay attention to the wordings of the answers given by officials and know that the authorities are yet to be briefed properly about the issue,” said Ashima A., who is currently awaiting her L-2 EAD. “If everyone listened carefully, they would know that the press secretary answered to the reporter by saying, ‘a number of visas that you just introduced or just conveyed.’ The usage of the word introduced clearly states that they are not aware of the issues arising with H-4 or L-2 visas yet. It may be a start, but I foresee hundreds or may be more losing their jobs before any concrete action is taken.”
H-4, L-2 EAD visa extension backlogs may take years to clear out, say attorneys (February 28, 2021)
Biometrics requirement lengthens H4 EAD processing time considerably (August 12, 2019)
Houston law firm sues USCIS over delay in H4 extension, H4 EAD (June 10, 2019)
DHS to introduce biometric system to cut visa overstays (May 26, 2017)