U.S. Govt Misses Deadline for Notification on Withdrawal of H-4 Visa Work Permit

The Department of Homeland Security has so far not issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making over the decision to end the rule that gives work permits to H-4 visa holders.


The United States administration has missed its second deadline this year to issue a notification about its proposal to revoke 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.

“I have no updates to provide at this time,” the news agency quoted a DHS official as saying. The official added that he cannot speculate on when a decision would be made, the report added.

The DHS had confirmed its intent to revoke the rule in its Unified Agenda notification in the Federal Register on June 11. “Removing H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization,” the department stated in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda), PTI had reported earlier.

The notification said that a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) over the issue would be published in June. The NRPM seeks public comments on the policy change.

The department also told a U.S. court in March that it would issue the NPRM in June that would announce the administration’s intent to scrap the Obama-era rule.

The DHS had earlier missed a deadline in February when it informed a federal court during a litigation hearing over the issue that it expected to submit the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review and clearance in time for publication in June 2018, according to PTI. The DHS had earlier sought an extension from DC Circuit Court of Appeals to gain more time to review the economic impact of revoking the program in February 2018.

Among those who would be affected the most by the termination of work authorization for H-4 visa holders are thousands of Indian women, who are spouses of technology professionals working in the United States on H-1B visa. As many as 93 percent of total H-4 visa holders with work permits in the United States are from India, according to a Congressional report.

The executive order to give work authorization permits to certain categories of H-4 visa holders was issued by the Barack Obama administration in 2015. Over 100,000 H-4 visa holders have been beneficiary of this rule.

The Donald Trump administration’s plan to rescind the rule has met with widespread opposition in the country. A group of 130 U.S lawmakers led by Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal wrote a letter to the administration in May, urging it to continue to grant work permits to certain dependent spouses of workers with H-1B visas. The letter, dated May 16, was signed by Republican as well as Democrat lawmakers.

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