U.S. courts have held that H-4 and L-2 visa holders’ spouses are eligible for automatic 180-day work permit extensions. Thousands of Indian professionals currently living and working in the United States may profit from the recent decision to award spouses of H-1B visa holders automatic work authorisation licences. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has filed a claim on behalf of spouses of noncitizens who were denied work permits and thus lost their jobs.
U.S. courts have held that H-4 and L-2 visa holders’ spouses are eligible for automatic 180-day work permit extensions. Spouses of L-1 visa holders are automatically granted the extension. H-4 visa holders, however, must take action to extend their work authorization before the visa itself expires.
Facilitating the issuance of work authorization documents to the spouses of H-1B visa holders
Two US congressman have introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would make it lawful for the spouses of thousands of foreign nationals, including Indians, to work in the US. This would help to alleviate the labour shortage affecting American businesses. Spouses and minor children of H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders can apply for H-4 visas. Whether it’s by getting relevant work experience or providing for their families, many H-4 visa holders have made significant contributions.
Employers in the United States can temporarily employ foreign nationals with an H-1B nonimmigrant visa if the position requires a high level of specialised expertise and experience. It’s a big reason why IT firms in nations like India and China hire thousands of people every year. The H-2A farmhand, the H-2B service worker, and the H-3 nonimmigrant trainee or exchange visitor are the three categories of temporary labourers.
Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Maria Elvira Salazar introduced the H-4 Work Authorisation Act on Thursday, which would amend current law to permit spouses of H-1B visa holders to begin working immediately after receiving an H-4 visa. They reasoned that if obtaining EADs (employment authorization documents) wasn’t mandatory, more visa holders would apply for them. The two legislators are adamant that their bill will aid undocumented workers’ families and provide American businesses an advantage in the present labour shortage.
Even though an H-4 visa holder is already physically present in the United States, they cannot begin working until they have applied for and received employment permission. Due to backlogs at USCIS, it currently takes between six and eight months to process a work permit application, and in some cases much longer. In an effort to ease the current labour shortage in the United States and to help visa holders find job swiftly so that they can support their families, the National Immigration Forum and the nonprofit advocacy group UnidosUs have both declared their support for the bill.
A press release implies that if H-4 visa holders were granted immediate work authorization and if USCIS processed fewer work authorizations overall, the backlog of work authorisation applications may be lessened.
The Distinctive Features of an H-4 Visa Compared to an L-2 Visa:
Spouses of L-1 and H-1B visa holders will now have their work authorization automatically extended for an additional 180 days according to the recent change. Spouses and minor children of H-1B visa holders are eligible to apply for H-4 visas, which are issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 94% of H-4 visa holders are women, according to data given by the United States government. Ninety-three percent are natives of India.
A non immigrant L-1 visa is valid for a shorter period of time than other types of visas. With the help of this visa process, foreign nationals with specialist talents can find temporary employment with multinational corporations in the United States. Spouses and minor children of L-1 visa holders can apply for L-2 visas. In order to start working in the United States on an L-2 visa, one must first apply for and acquire an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Implications for India:
Employment authorization paperwork are no longer required for spouses of H-1B and L-2 visa holders who wish to work in the United States. A H-4 spouse’s work permit will be automatically extended for an additional 180 days after its expiration date if the government fails to act on the spouse’s timely-filed petition for renewal of employment authorization. The H-4 visa is available to the dependents of H-1B visa holders. The lawsuit aimed to fix the kinks in the system that caused many partners to lose their employment throughout the two-year application process.
Forbes reports that one of the original plaintiffs in the case is Divya Jayaraj, a foreign student who came to the United States on a vacation visa and stayed because she married an H-1B visa holder. Professionally, she was a medical doctor. Divya filed a lawsuit on August 25, 2020, claiming that she was terminated “because of agency inaction” after she applied to renew her H-4 status on Form I-539 and her EAD on Form I-765.
A U.S. government agency has expressed “serious concerns” about the H-1B visa lottery because of the enormous volume of requests.
For the second year in a row, the number of visa applications used in the IT industry has skyrocketed, prompting authorities to express “serious concerns” on Friday that some are abusing the system to get an unfair edge. According to data given by USCIS to “stakeholders,” the number of applicants that joined this year’s computer-generated lottery for H-1B visas was 780,884, an increase of 61% from the total of 483,927 in 2017. There were 308,613 submissions in 2017, therefore this is an increase.
Even if no job offer was made, employees who win the lottery must now sign affidavits claiming they did not collude with others to submit several bids under different firm names. It would give them hope to try contracting as workers for tech businesses who were eager to hire individuals despite their lack of legal authorization to do so if they were successful even once.
With more people potentially eligible to register this year, multiple registrations for the same beneficiary raise serious concerns that some may have attempted to gain an unfair advantage. The group speculated that this played a role in their unfair selection.
The organisation claims that it has “undertaken extensive fraud investigations” into lottery applications over the past two years, has denied some applications, and is “in the process” of reporting others to federal authorities. In 2016, there were 90,143 duplicate registrations, and in 2017, that figure grew to 165,180. The government has pledged to continue its crackdown on bogus applications until only legitimate H-1B cap petitions are accepted.
The H-1B visa, which is used by software engineers and others in the computer industry, has become a contentious issue in the immigration debate because of claims that its recipients are decreasing the earnings of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Companies in the information technology sector argue that layoffs are necessary because there are not enough competent people to fill available positions. The percentage of winning lottery entries has dropped over the past two years as the number of applications sent to large IT businesses has risen.
Raise the cap on H-1B visas and other lawful immigration programmes:
Shri Thanedar, an Indian American lawmaker, has requested that US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas increase the amount of available H-1B visas, which are extremely popular among Indian IT experts, to match the demand for brilliant employees from India. Foreign people with theoretical or technical expertise are eligible for temporary employment in the United States through the H-1B nonimmigrant visa programme, which is sponsored by U.S. firms.
U.S. information technology firms annually recruit tens of thousands of workers from developing nations like India and China. Thanedar testified on the Department of Homeland Security’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 before the House Committee on Homeland Security, with the chair, John Mayorkas. “We must expand legal pathways for immigration, perhaps by increasing the annual allotment of H-1B visas,” Thanedar said.
Each year, 85,000 H-1B visas are made available, with 20,000 reserved for international students who have earned graduate degrees in the United States. Thanedar, a Democrat, has said that the problems at the border show that the US immigration system has to be changed. He was the only lawmaker to ask Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson any questions about the H-1B visa programme.
Thanedar asserts that the DHS is accountable for a variety of crucial responsibilities beyond American borders. For instance, we need to make sure the TSA has the resources to safeguard all forms of transportation in the future. He went on to add that frontline TSA workers were paid 30 percent less than other federal employees despite performing substantially the same work, and were afforded less labour rights.
Republican efforts to address these issues have fallen short in light of new, promising ideas proposed by Ranking Member Thompson and other Democrats. It gave him great satisfaction to learn that “in July, increased protections and compensation for TSA employees will go into effect thanks to the votes of Democrats last year.”
The grant of work permits for Indian spouses of H-1B visa holders in America is a positive development for both the individuals and the country as a whole. This decision allows the spouses, who are often highly skilled and educated, to contribute to the workforce and fulfill their professional aspirations. It also helps address the challenges faced by these individuals who had previously been unable to work legally in the United States, leading to financial dependence and potential underutilization of their skills.