The Donald Trump administration is considering a proposal to stop issuing work permits to the spouses of H1-B visa holders to work in the US legally, a top federal agency source informed its lawmakers, PTI reported.
The move could impact thousands of Indians. A PTI report had said in March that the US issued employment authorisation documents to spouses of over 71,000 H-1B visa-holders, over 90 per cent of whom are Indians.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director Lee Francis Cissna said in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley that a formal communication on Washington's latest decision would be made in the summer.
"Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility," PTI quoted Cissna as saying.
H-4 is granted to the spouse of H-1B visa holders. They received the work permits under a special order by the previous Barack Obama administration. The move benefited more than 1,00,000 H-4 visa holders. In 2015, the Obama administration allowed work permits for spouses who could not be employed even as the H-1B visa holders sought a permanent resident process which could be a prolonged one. The Trump administration is trying to scrap the provision.
When sought a feedback about the proposal, sources in New Delhi said India has always been against changing the existing visa system as the contributions by Indians in that country is big, the PTI reported. "This (visa) issue is a core issue for India and the government continues to lobby at various levels for the interests of Indian professionals there," the report quoted a source as saying.
Washington-based Migration Policy Institute said in a report that as of June 2017, USCIS gave initial employment authorisation documents to H-4 spouses. It said that of the H-4 spouses having work authorisation as of early 2017, 94 per cent were women while 93 per cent was from India. Only four per cent was from China.