Washington: A week after his inauguration, US President Joe Biden has withdrawn a Trump-era rule rescinding work authorisation for H-4 visa holders, spouses of those with H-1B work visas.
An H-4 visa is issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders, most of whom are Indian IT professionals. According to a 2018 report by Congressional Research Service, 93% of approved applicants for H-4 employment authorisation were born in India.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies use the visa programme to hire thousands each year from countries like India and China.
The Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Monday said the proposed rule, “Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorisation,” was being withdrawn.
The Trump administration announced in 2017 that it would end the Obama-era programme of giving H-4 visa holders work authorisation. However, the Republican Party-led administration was unable to complete the process during its four years in office.
During the 2020 presidential election, the Biden campaign had promised to withdraw the Trump administration’s move. On December 16, 2020, soon after his electoral victory, 60 members of the US House of Representatives wrote a letter urging Biden, a Democrat, to unilaterally extend the expiration of work authorisation documents for H-4 visa holders.