United States is always in short of high skilled workers and in order to sustain its competitiveness, the country looks forward to grant visas to high skilled foreign workers. Now the USCIS has planned to grant work permits to the H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders, because most of the H-4 spouses are graduates who are high skilled. This plan would benefit the country and the spouses of the H-1B visa holders who are currently not permitted to work in the United States. USCIS believes that the country will be able to retain the high skilled foreign workers if the H-4 visa holders are granted employment authorization documents(EAD) and if they are permitted to work in the country. However, spouses of all the H-1B visas holders who hold H-4 visas may not become eligible for work permits and people who meet the key criteria alone will become eligible for work permits.
Family members of H visa holders are granted H-4 non-immigrant visas and the spouse and an unmarried child below age 21 of an H visa holder are eligible for H-4 visas. Currently, such family members who get into the country on H-4 non-immigrant visas are not eligible to work in the United States and they cannot accept employment in the United States. However, a proposal that would allow the dependents of the H-1B visa holders to work in America, has been proposed and if this proposal is approved, H-4 spouses would be permitted to work legally in America. In this case, the H-1B visa holders must have applied for adjustment of status using Form I-485 and must be working in the United States. This proposal would benefit the employers and the employees as the US employers would be able to retain the high skilled workers.
According to this proposal, H-4 spouses would be permitted to apply for employment authorization documents if their H-1B spouses have applied for United States Green Cards and if their adjustment of status applications are pending. This could be a great news to the eligible dependents of H-1B visa holders but they need to remember that they will become eligible for work permits only if their H-1B spouses have been working in the country for around seven years and if they have extended their authorized stay under AC 21 Act.
If the principal H-1B visa holder has spent less than six years in the United States, his spouse who holds a H-4 visa may not be able to apply for an employment authorization document and cannot work in the United States. Spouses of such H-1B visa holders who have been working in the United States for more than a year but not more than six years, will become eligible of employment authorization documents only if their H-1B spouses complete 6 years in H-1B and only after they apply for adjustment of status.
Apart from that, a PERM labor certification or Form I-140, filed on behalf of the principal H-1B visa holders must be approved. Only if the principal H-1B visa holders have applied for H1B extension and if their petitions for extension are approved, their spouses on H-4 visas will become eligible to apply for employment authorization documents. This proposal would benefit the H4 spouses who currently wait for years to apply for US Green Cards. While applying for work permits, the H-4 visa holders might be required to prove that their spouses are still working on H-1B non-immigrant status and not on any other non-immigrant status.