In any given year, the U.S. grants approximately 85,000 H1B visas, given to foreign workers with special skills or highly specialized knowledge. For a long time, their spouses were denied permission to work in the U.S., but in 2014, employment authorization documents (EAD) were granted to H4 visa holders, which is the visa given to the spouses of H1B holders. Now, in 2019, the current administration has published a notice of intent to roll back the program granting the EADs, arguing that too much competition with U.S. workers is created.
Program in Limbo Since 2015
The Obama administration granted the right to seek an EAD to H4 holders in 2014, but in 2015, a group called SaveJobs, comprised of ‘displaced’ U.S. tech workers, sued the administration, alleging that it had overstepped its bounds and that granting EADs to this group of nonimmigrants would make it harder for U.S. citizens to find work in technology. The group lost, appealed, and the case was continued multiple times, allegedly while the rule was being rewritten and refined.
Now, in 2019, a draft rule has been authored, rendering the lawsuit moot, as the proposed rule changes would eliminate the work permits (the issue that SaveJobs initially brought suit over). However, critics point out that only those who are already on the path to lawful permanent resident (green card holder) status are eligible for the EADs, and it would be economically inadvisable to “pull the rug out” from under families and people who are contributing to the economy....