Change coming for families of H-1B visa holders?

Immigration reform is a major issue in Washington, D.C. Both political parties have ideas and proposals they would like to have considered, but so far they have been unable to find the common ground that would lead to major changes. Even though both parties agree that changes must be made, they cannot agree on what those changes need to be.

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took matters into its own hands and proposed a rule to extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers. Spouses of L-1 and E nonimmigrants have long had the ability to obtain work authorization so it is time spouses in H-4 status have this ability as well. Unfortunately, this rule does not apply to all H-4 spouses but it will be very beneficial to some.

The DHS proposed rule stipulates that to be eligible for employment authorization, the individual must be the H-4 dependent spouse of a principal H-1B worker who is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; OR who has been granted an extension of his or her authorized period of stay in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21). AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit when certain criteria have been met.

This proposed rule is currently in a commenting period, and it must be finalized before it can take effect. When this rule may become final is not known at this time.

If you have questions about an employment-based immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact Miley & Brown, P.C. for assistance.