With welcome news to the nonimmigrant worker population, the Biden administration has withdrawn the long-standing Trump administration proposal to rescind an Obama-era regulation that allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) completed their review of the proposed rule titled, “Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization,” on January 25, 2021, and withdrew the rule. Tens of thousands of H-4 visa holders working in the United States are pleased to know they can still work and contribute to their households through the employment authorization document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). A majority of H4 EAD holders are Indian nationals.
The granting of work permits to H4 holders was first proposed in February 2012 and President Obama issued the Executive Action in November 2014. The USCIS submitted the final rule for the White House approval in February 2015, and the USCIS began receiving work authorization applications from eligible H4 visa holders in May 2015. H4 visa holders are allowed to obtain a work permit only if the spouse has an approved Immigration Petition for Immigrant Worker (Form 1-140), or if the H-1B visa holder spouse has an extension of the authorized period of admission in the US, beyond the permitted six years period.
The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stance was evident from the beginning of the administration where the administration indicated its intention to end the work permit. The Department of Homeland Security submitted its proposal to terminate H4 EAD to the Office of Management and Budget for review in March 2019. It argued that H4 EAD puts US workers at a disadvantage. The Trump administration’s DHS signaled its intention to end the H4 EAD and submitted the proposed regulation to terminate the work permit for H4 visa holders in February 2019. The H4 EAD decision was fiercely opposed by critics of the H-1B visa program. But finally, the Biden administration took action by rescinding the H-4 regulation against work authorization.