Last week USINPAC covered the problem many Indian-American children face with aging out of their H-4 visas before their high-skilled professional parents can gain green card status. Unfortunately, spouses of H1-B visa holders who hold H4 EAD visas may also start facing problems soon because of the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order President Trump signed April of last year to protect the interest of US workers while also preventing fraud or abuse of working visas. With the “Buy American and Hire American” order signed, the Department of Homeland Security has stated plans to end the H4 EAD work permit program to comply with President Trump’s executive order.
The H4 EAD work permit program was put into place by President Obama in 2015 to allow spouses of high-skilled workers to seek and hold employment of their own. Since 2015 there have been a little over 100,000 H4 EAD visas given out, mostly to women, but currently, only 41,500 holders of H4 EAD visas are in the workforce. With H4 EAD visa holders just making up 3 percent of the total amount of foreign workers with visas, it seems more like a form of bullying on the Department of Homeland Security’s part than trying to prevent fraud or abuse of the system. Over half of the owners of H4 EAD visas are not currently in the workforce, and with the other 41,500 making up only 3 percent of foreign workers with visas, it seems like there is little fraudulent or abusive activity going on.
With the current labor shortage in the United States, H4 EAD visa holders should be welcomed, not prevented from working. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are currently 6.7 million unfilled positions in the United States and an unemployment rate of just 3.8 percent. H4 EAD visa holders are not “stealing” jobs from Americans, they are helping fill in spots where labor is needed. Taking the ability for spouses of H1-B visas away will hurt families and may cause some to have to rethink settling in the United States for financial reasons.
Taking away the ability to work for H4 EAD visa holders seems to be more of a ply for praise from the Trump administration rather than complying with the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. A small group of working immigrants and their families will be hurt if the Department of Homeland Security follows through with putting an end to allowing spouses of highly-skilled workers to gain a working visa of their own.
Department of Homeland Security was supposed to have a ruling about the H4 EAD visas by June 2018, but as June has come and gone H4 EAD visa holders continue to wait as their fate is decided for them.