Termination of H-4 Visa Work Permit May Affect 1 Lakh People: Report

The Donald Trump administration’s plans to end work authorization permit for H-4 visa holders may result in job losses for about 1 lakh people, according to a recent study.


The Donald Trump administration’s plans to end the work authorization permit for H-4 visa holders may hurt the employment status of about 1 lakh people, according to a recent study. The move is likely to cause social alienation of spouses of H-1B visa holders, increase in family tensions and strain on the family’s finances, according to a study by Christopher JL Cunningham of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Pooja B Vijayakumar from the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick, Bloomberg reported.

The United States administration has been working towards terminating the Obama-era rule that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the country. The executive order, signed by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, has mostly been used by highly-skilled Indian women who are spouses of technology professionals working in the country.

Revoking the work permits is likely to have a negative impact on the satisfaction levels of the visa holder, increasing the risks that they would continue in a foreign posting, the report said. The cost of failed expatriate assignments ranges from $250,000 to $1 million, in addition to indirect costs, according to the researchers.

“Policy changes like the one being considered for America are often made in the absence of complete information that might help policy makers better understand the true breadth of likely consequences,” the study said, the publication reported.

Cunningham and Vijayakumar studied the experiences of H-1B families in 2014 for their research. About 1,800 Indian expatriate were a part of the research, of which the final sample consisted of 416 persons. The researchers received a range of feedback from the respondents during the study. “Very unfair to her, so going back to India,” one H-1B visa holder told them. “My wife is frustrated that she is unable to further her career,” another was quoted as saying in the report.

According to the researchers, the move to scrap work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders “will be more critical and difficult for expatriate families than what was experienced in 2014, as many of these individuals who were temporarily benefited by the previous presidential administration’s immigration policies may have, in this time, bought a home or started their own businesses.”

The U.S. administration, meanwhile, missed a second deadline this year to issue a notification about its proposal to end work authorization for H-4 visa holders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had planned to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) over the decision to end the rule that gives work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders in June. However, the government has not given any reason for not going ahead with the move by the end of the month, PTI reported.

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