Spouses of non-immigrant workers, for example, those on H-1B will be approved to work, according to the provisions of the Immigration Bill, released by the Biden administration. The important aspect is that the current prohibitive conditions relating to the employment authorization program (work permits) will not apply.
At present, when the H-1B visa beneficiary is on track for a green card or has an expansion beyond the permitted six years. The spouse (holding an H-4 dependent visa) could apply for an employment authorization report. This, in turn, enabled the spouse to not only find a job or be self-employed but also enabled the spouse to obtain a social security number, a driving license, or for that matter open a bank account.
At present, almost a lakh Indian spouses (generally ladies) are estimated to hold a work permit. Recently, the Biden government pulled out a proposed circular (gave earlier under the Trump regime) that would have revoked the employment authorization program.
“The provisions of the bill, which approve employment for the spouse of a non-immigrant temporary worker. Admitted to the US, seem more extensive, even as detailed rules could later follow,”. Says Poorvi Chothani, founder of an immigration law office in Mumbai.
H-1B visa holders spouses will get work permits
“Right now, spouses of L-1 visa holders (on intra-organization transfers) are allowed to work. It seems that the same will now apply even to spouses of H-1B workers. They will be given a work permit. This is huge news given that Indians constitute a significant number of those allotted H-1B visas each year.”
At this point, it isn’t known whether the work permits for spouses will be totally open. For any area or for specific areas where there is a critical need – say in the medical field.
As per statistics in a report released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Of the 3.89 lakh H-1B visas (including extensions) gave during fiscal 2019. Almost 72% or 2.78 lakh were allocated to Indian beneficiaries.
While opening up work opportunities for spouses of H-1B workers would make the US an attractive destination. It could also invite ire from specific sections on grounds that it is harming job opportunities for local people and could result in litigation.