New US bill granting work permit to H-1B spouses introduced

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The new bill aims to grant the spouses of H-1B visa holding immigrants an automatic right to work after receiving their H-4 visa, reports Asian Lite News

A new bill was introduced in the House of Representatives aimed at granting an automatic right to work for H-4 visa holders, who are the dependent spouses and children accompanying H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States, media reported.

Only certain categories of H-4 visa holders can apply for an employment authorisation document under the current rule.

Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux and Maria Elvira Salazar introduced the H-4 Work Authorization Act which seeks to change the current law and grant the spouses of H-1B visa holding immigrants an automatic right to work after receiving their H-4 visa, the Hindustan Times reported.

It will remove the requirement for visa holders to apply for Form I-765, an Employment Authorisation Document (EAD), it was reported.

According to lawmakers, there are numerous employers facing acute labour shortages and the new bill can fill labour gaps, deliver jobs, and help immigrant families thrive together.

Congresswoman Bourdeaux said a statement: “Right now, the spouses of highly-skilled immigrants have to fight through years of bureaucratic red tape before they are allowed to work in the United States.”

She said that this bill will remove these needless barriers to ensure families can contribute and prosper together.

“If we are going to continue to be competitive and attract the greatest minds and talent around the world, we must ensure that the family members of high-value immigrants are able to build a life and career in the United States, just like everyone else,” she said in a statement.

Currently, H-4 visa holders must apply for work authorization and wait for approval before they can work. Given the backlogs at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applications for EAD can take anywhere from six to eight months, with some applications taking over one year to be approved.

The lawmakers said that the Bill could also help to reduce the backlog of EAD applications at USCIS by providing immediate work authorization to H-4 visa holders and reducing the number of work authorizations USCIS must process.

Meanwhile, every year the US gives 65,000 H1-B visas open to all and 20,000 to those with advanced US degrees.

The H1-B visa allows companies and other employers in the US to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent,

Indians are the biggest beneficiaries of the H1-B visas getting about 75 per cent of them, according to the US government.

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