New bill to allow automatic work permits to H-4 spouses

If enacted, bipartisan legislation will bring relief to over 100,000 spouses of Indian tech professionals with H-1B visas

A bipartisan immigration legislation to allow the spouses of high skilled foreigners working in the US to be automatically granted their work authorization without formal application, has been introduced in the US Congress.

If enacted the H-4 Work Authorization Act will bring relief to over 100,000 spouses of Indian tech professionals with H-1B visas. Many of them have lost jobs, faced set-backs in their careers or had to give up running their own business due to delays in processing of their work permits by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Introduced by Georgia Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux and Florida Republican Maria Elvira Salazar on April 7, the legislation aims “to address the national labor shortage affecting American businesses while helping immigrant families thrive together.”

Read: 60 lawmakers urge Biden to renew H4 spouses’ work permits (December 23, 2020)

The bill would allow H-4 visa holders to be automatically granted their work authorization without needing to submit a Form I-765, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which can take years to be approved, according to a press release from Bourdeaux.

“Right now, the spouses of highly-skilled immigrants have to fight through years of bureaucratic red tape before they are allowed to work in the United States,” said Bourdeaux.

“This bill removes these needless barriers to ensure families can contribute and prosper together. If we are going to continue to be competitive and attract the greatest minds and talent around the world, we must ensure that the family members of high-value immigrants are able to build a life and a career in the United States, just like everyone else.”

“I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan H-4 Work Authorization Act,” said Salazar. “This policy will help Miami and the United States maximize our entrepreneurial spirit and continue leading in job creation, innovation, research and development, and economic growth by meeting critical labor market needs.”

The H-4 Work Authorization Act changes current law to allow the spouses of H-1B immigrants to automatically be granted work authorization upon receiving their H-4 visa. This would remove the requirement for visa holders to apply for a Form I-765, EAD.

This legislation hopes to fill America’s labor gap and allow these visa holders to quickly work and provide for their families, the lawmakers said.

It could also help to reduce the backlog of work authorization applications at USCIS by providing immediate work authorization to H-4 visa holders and reducing the number of work authorizations USCIS must process, they said.

H-4 visas are issued to dependent spouses and children who accompany H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States. Many H-4 visa holders are highly skilled people in their own right and previously had careers of their own or worked to support their families.

Read: Bill introduced for grant of automatic right to H4 Visa holders to work in US (April 8, 2022)

Currently, H-4 visa holders must apply for work authorization and wait for it to be processed before they can work, even though they are already in the United States and their spouse is working in the United States.

Due to backlogs at USCIS, applications for work authorization can take anywhere from six to eight months, with some applications taking over one year to be approved.

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Immigration Forum and UnidosUs, the release said.

One Comment

  1. Deepak Arora

    When decisions will come for H4 automatic work Authorization

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