Two US lawmakers presented the bill as a possible solution to overcome the current labour shortage affecting American businesses
A bill that aims at granting automatic right to H-4 visa holders to work in the country has been introduced by two US lawmakers in the House of Representatives. If passed, it will benefit the spouses of thousands of foreigners, including Indians, and at the same time, also take care of the current shortage of labour affecting American businesses.
H-4 visas are issued to dependent spouses and children of H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders. Since they are not allowed to work unless they get a work visa for themselves, their talents remain unutilised in the US. It must be noted that many H-4 visa holders are highly skilled workers in their own right and have held good job positions before accompanying their families to the US.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign, whereas H-2A visas are issued to those with temporary agricultural jobs, H-2B visas are for temporary non-agricultural jobs and H-3 visas are for trainees, special education exchange visitors.
The bill, announced by Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux and Maria Elvira Salazar on Thursday, seeks to change the H-4 Work Authorisation Act and grant the spouses of H-1B visa holders an automatic right to work once they receive a H-4 visa. This would mean that they don’t have to apply for an Employment Authorisation Document (Form I-765). Both the lawmakers said that the proposed legislation will effectively address the labour shortage in the country, and also help immigrant families thrive.
Currently, EAD applications can take anywhere between six to eight months or even one year to get approval. If passed, the bill will help over one lakh Indian spouses – mostly wives of H-1B visa holders.