Published: Sat, December 16, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Trump moves to stop spouses of H-1B visa holders from working

Trump moves to stop spouses of H-1B visa holders from working

The H-4 visa, or the visa that named the spouses of H-1B visa holders as a "class of aliens eligible for employment authorization", may be in jeopardy, according to a Department of Homeland Security notice.

The order also called for the H-1B visa program for skilled workers to be reviewed with the aim of reforming it.

The 2015 rule allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders who are seeking Green Card status to work in the country as well, under special H-4 visas.

The H-1B is a common visa route for highly skilled foreigners to find work at companies in the U.S. It's valid for three years, and can be renewed for another three years.

The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens of 38 countries, mostly in Europe, to travel to the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without a visa.

The Obama-era rule allowing spouses to work already faces a legal challenge.

The changes also affect VWP countries that have higher rates of citizens overstaying their visas to the U.S. If more than 2 percent of a country's visitors stay beyond the expiration of their visa, that country will be required to carry out a public information campaign aimed at reducing those overstay violations, the Department of Homeland Security announced.

The department didn't explain its reasons in the announcement, saying only it was acting "in light of" the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order that President Trump signed in April.

If the Trump administration does repeal the rule, it will disproportionately affect Indian immigrants, who made up almost 80% of all H-4 visas issued in 2015. However, critics say H-4 displaces even more American workers.

One such woman, Meghna Damani, told Quartz she left her advertising job in Mumbai to marry her husband and move to the US.

"I could not work and I realised I did not have a sense of goal", she told Quartz past year. "To no longer feel like a burden".

The H-1B visa program saw a lot of uncertainty since President Trump took office.

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