Particulars about EAD For H-4 visa holders
On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants high-skilled workers who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States. Consequently, the long wait for many H-4 visa holders seeking Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards to work legally in the United States would finally be coming to an end. This news came as a potential boon for approximately 179,600 individuals in the first year alone.
Relevance to Indians in the U.S.
“It’s a big win for the Indian community,” said Shah Peerally, who heads up an immigration law firm in Newark, California. “A lot of people are going to be able to go on with their lives.” The move has particular relevance to India, as 76 per cent of the 96,753 people who received an H-4 in 2013 were from South Asia, many from India, a natural consequence of the fact that a large proportion of H-1B visas are also given to Indians.
Underscoring that an estimated 55,000 H-4 spouses will be eligible to apply in subsequent years, South Asian Americans Leading Together, a key community organisation here said that it welcomed the move, but that it was only the “first step,” as it limited work eligibility for H-4 visa holders to only those whose spouses were in line for a green card.
The announcement that H-4 visa holders, whose spouses are applying for a “green card,” that is, seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status, will be eligible to work in the U.S. came on the back of a lengthy campaign. The granting of EAD cards has come after three years when it was first proposed in February, 2012. It made little progress till April of last year when the White House issued the guidelines for the cards to be issued. And then came a period for public comments and official procedures. President Barack Obama also made it part of his Executive Action in November of last year. The USCIS finally submitted the final rule for the White House to approve it earlier February 2015, and which it did.
Spelling out the details, the USCIS Department said that finalising the H-4 employment eligibility was a move aimed to “modernise, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.” León Rodríguez said the move “provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.” “Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” he said. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) added that it expected this change would “reduce the economic burden and stress on H-1B non-immigrants and their families during the transition from non-immigrant to lawful permanent resident status.
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