US lawmakers ask Donald Trump administration to reconsider decision to revoke H4 EAD permits       2018-05-04   15:26:57  IST  Bhanu C

Washington: A group of 15 influential lawmakers from California has urged the Trump administration to reconsider its move to revoke an Obama-era rule that gives work permits to spouses of certain categories of H-1B visas, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.

The lawmakers asserted that the existing H-4 rule was a matter of both economic competitiveness and maintaining family unity. “The H-4 rule lessened the burden on thousands of H1-B recipients and their families while they transition from non-immigrants to lawful permanent residents by allowing their families to earn dual incomes. Many entrepreneurs used their EADs to start businesses that now employ United States (US) citizens,” they said in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M Nielsen.

“Eliminating this benefit removes an important incentive for highly skilled immigrants to remain here to invest in and grow our economy to the benefit of all Americans,” the lawmakers said.

The letter came amidst reports that the Trump Administration was planning to approach the court to inform that it has decided to rescind the Obama-era executive order which gave work permits to spouses of certain categories of H-1B visas. The order has not been rescinded yet. The lawmakers did not say if they had received any response from Nielsen.

Last week, Indian American congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and congressman Ro Khanna told community leaders that they opposed the decision of the Trump Administration to terminate the Obama-era work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders. “I oppose the move. I am on a bipartisan Bill that seeks to ensure work permits for spouses. It is also a question of countering domestic violence. Because most of these spouses are women, in the absence of economic independence, they become vulnerable,” Khanna said at an event organised by the US India Friendship Council.

“I oppose the move to terminate work permits to H-4 visas. Women who are just as qualified, sometimes more qualified than their spouses but haven’t been able to work,”,” Jayapal said. With the future of thousands of Indian professional, mostly women, at stake, the Indian Embassy here is believed to have taken up the matter very strongly with the Trump Administration and US lawmakers.

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Not all is lost, say legal experts. The Immigration Herald, an online news outlet, points out that existing EADs have not been revoked and has the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not stopped approving new H4 EADs or stopped renewing existing ones.

According to legal procedure, the public will get 60 days to send in comments. The Department of Homeland Security will review all the comments and come up with answers to queries. It will also look into the likely impact ..

Skilled Immigrants in USA (SIIA), an organisation helping out skilled Indians stuck in long green card queues, has been reaching out to members across the US likely to be hit by the H4 EAD change.
“Even though the details are not yet known, we are asking all our members to prepare their stories in advance so that they can be shared when the notice and comment period starts. Some of our members are also speaking to lawyers to explore legal options if they lose their work authorisation,” ..

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