An Indian spouse on H-4 visa shares her travails with the American Bazaar
Texas based Rajni Priya (name changed on interviewee’s request) has over a decade’s experience in advocacy, but being on an H-4 visa she had to pause her career. Forced to give up a long awaited promotion as her work permit expires soon, she shares her story with the American Bazaar in her own words:
“I am a communications and advocacy professional with over 13 years of experience. I moved to the US six years ago when my husband got a job here. Since I came on an H-4 dependent visa, I had to take a career break in 2018. I was not eligible to work under H-4 without my spouses’ I-140 approval. He got the approval in 2019 and I filed my H-4EAD.
“A career break which I thought would last for 12-16 months got stretched into three and half years because USCIS delayed my H-4EAD by 13 months. I lost one and a half years of my career only because of delayed paperwork. When I finally received my EAD in August last year, I only had 7-8 months left on that. My current EAD is approved only till April 2022.
“About a month ago, I received an offer that any professional spends their life waiting for. I was offered a great senior communications role by an international company, which I joined recently. For me, it is that golden opportunity that could bring my career back on track. But the biggest irony is that I cannot take up that offer.
“Currently the processing times of EAD at Texas Center is anywhere between 10-12 months. USCIS allows us to file renewals only 180 days or six months prior to expiry of the work permit. If I do the math here, there is no way I can avoid losing my job in April because there is no way USCIS will approve my renewal before that.
“I cannot even raise an expedite or emergency request because USCIS does not consider loss of job as an emergency to renew the work permit. The fact that this treatment is meted out to qualified professionals who are adding worth to America’s economy is extremely disturbing.
“I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in sustainability. I have worked with the Gates Foundation and the World Bank. Currently I am working with a company that works on sanitation and water conservation issues.
“I want to stress that a large majority of us on H-4 EAD are not only highly qualified individuals but also work in important segments and contribute towards making America a great nation. It’s saddening that the country we are contributing to does not even give us a real chance towards my career.
Read: Paperwork Delays Become Job Market Barriers for Foreign Spouses (October 28, 2021)
“EAD delays and Green Card Backlog have created havoc in the life of tax paying, hard working professionals. It’s not very easy to get an H-1B sponsorship in my field of work so I cannot even think of taking that route.
“This means that I have to just resign to the fact that America has this extremely incompetent agency and I cannot have a normal career in my lifetime. This is not a standalone issue of just one person. There are thousands of dependent spouses, mostly women who are in this situation.”