H-4 Dependent Spouses May Lose Eligibility For Employment Authorization

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first amended its regulations to extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 spouses in 2015. (see the Federal Register). Now, they are taking steps to rescind that eligibility and remove H-4 spouses from the group of immigrants eligible for employment authorization.

When this rule was finalized in 2015, the eligibility was extended to only those H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence status. DHS reasoned that the amendment “support[s] the retention of highly skilled workers who are on the path to lawful permanent residence”  and that the change [will] reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses that H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to LPR status while, at the same time, facilitating their integration into American society.”

DHS is now revising that rule in hopes to rescind the eligibility for these H-4 spouses. As of February 2019, DHS has sent a draft of the proposed new regulation to Office of Management and Budget (which is an Executive Office of the President) for review. (See EO 12866). Although there is not extensive information on the length or impact of the proposal, DHS, in their draft, reasoned that “U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold, as the proposed rule would no longer allow H-4 workers to enter the labor market early.”

The draft is still pending review with OMB and still has a few more steps to follow before it actually becomes law. IT THEREFORE CURRENTLY HOLDS NO LEGAL IMPLICATIONS FOR H-4 EAD HOLDERS.

What are your thoughts on this proposal, Let me know in the comments below!

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