Immigration experts suggest appealing to USCIS to process H-4 work permits along with H-1Bs may be a better option
Prem Lata, an H-4 dependent visa holder who worked in the management sector for the past few years in Chicago, finds herself sitting at home these days.
When she is not checking the USCIS website for any new updates or checking the pending status of her renewal of work permit request, she looks for alternate hobby classes in her local library to kill time.
“When I first came to the United States, I never imagined that this would be my fate,” she says. “I knew that I won’t be able to work pending my work authorization but once I got the EAD, I never thought I’d be forced to be unemployed.”
Lata, however, is refraining from applying through a lawyer to get her work permit expedited. “Many people are suggesting that I file a lawsuit through a lawyer and challenge the unnecessary delay on part of the USCIS,” she says.
“But another immigration group that I follow are against the idea. They suggest that by going for lawsuits we are putting more money in the USCIS coffers. Honestly it’s all so confusing.”
Unlike Lata, Anu Shah also awaiting her H4-EAD has another reason for not opting for a lawsuit to challenge her pending work permit. “I have been working only for a year. It took me about a year to get a job and now I am again forced to be jobless,” she says.
Read: H-4 visa delays are crippling everyday lives for many (March 12, 2021)
“Honestly, I do not have any funds to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees. I do not want to ask my husband as it’s my battle and he anyway has the burden of providing for our kids’ education and our home loan,” says Shah.
“It doesn’t sound fair that we should be forced to expend our hard earned money for permits we have already been granted.”
A lot of immigration experts are now advising those in the waitlist for work permits to not look for short-term arrangements like expedite requests or filing lawsuits, but instead look for real solutions.
Instead they are suggesting to appeal to the USCIS for processing H-4EADs along with H-1Bs as used to happen earlier up till 2019.
“A lot of times we waste our energy in conducting repeat expedited requests which are ruthlessly rejected by USCIS. I think it may be time to change our strategy and ask for informed reforms,” says Seattle based immigration advocate Niha Kumar.
Some others suggest that people should lobby for asking USCIS to hire more resources if they cite shortage of staff as a hindrance in processing visas and permits on time.