U.S. Planning to End Work Permits for H-4 Visa Holders

A letter written by the director of USCIS Francis Cissna to the US Senate Judiciary Committee reiterated the plan to scrap work permits for H-4 visa holders.


The Trump administration is planning to scrap the employment authorization document (EAD) for H-4 visa holders, spouses of H-1 B visa holders, according to the latest communication between the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Francis Cissna and the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a recent letter written by Cissna to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles E.Grassley, Cissna gave an update on USCIS’ effort to ensure integrity of the immigration system. “Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility,” Cissna stated in the letter.

The letter also indicated that changes will be made to the H-1B lottery process and the “definition of specialty occupation” will be changed. He also said that there will be targeted site visits at L1 worker sites too. So far, the USCIS has had its eyes on “fraud and abuse” in the H1B program and it’s now turning towards the L1 visa holders as well.

The L1 visa is for intracompany transfers. It allows the temporary transfer of a foreign worker in the managerial, executive or specialized knowledge category to the United States to continue employment with an office of the same employer, its parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate.

After months of being in a limbo, the death knell for spouses of H-1B visa holders’ careers may have been sounded. The USCIS had declared in September 2017 that it would be scrapping the H-4 EAD. However, it had been delayed until now. Almost 105,000 work permits to spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants were given out since the policy was put in place during Obama-era.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had said in a Feb. 28 court filing that it was reviewing the economic impact of terminating work authorization for H4 visa holders and has pushed back terminating the permit till June. However, they said that their intentions to proceed with publication of an Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) concerning the H-4 visa rule at issue in this case remain unchanged.

The cancellation of the work permit for H4 visa holders effects mostly Indian and Chinese women, who are also skilled workers and have secured work in various fields.

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