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Proposal to Bar H-1B Spouses from Working in US Reaches White House for Final Decision

The Trump administration has faced strong resistance on its proposed policy on grounds that it is anti-women and also prevents talented spouses of H-1B visa holders from working in the United States.

PTI

Updated:February 22, 2019, 8:22 PM IST
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Washington: The White House has formally received the proposed changes in the existing regulations to end the work authorisation for spouses of the holders of H-1B visas, the most sought-after among Indian IT professionals.

The move that would impact over 90,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders, an overwhelming number of whom are Indians, was sent by the Department of Homeland Security to the White House Office of management for Budget on Wednesday, officials said.

The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

It's now for the White House to take a final call on it, before a formal regulation could be issued and the Department of Homeland Security can inform a federal court, where a lawsuit on this issue is pending.

Now White House would carry out its review of the proposed regulation, take inputs from various agencies, before taking a final call. The entire process could take from a few weeks to several months.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which manages the programme said the proposed regulation was not final until the review and comment process was complete.

As per the existing process, once White House gives its nod, the regulation would be published in federal register with a 30-day comment period.

It is only after that the new changes can come into effect. The Trump administration is moving ahead with its proposed regulation, despite strong resistance from a group of US lawmakers including Senator Kamala Harris, and Silicon Valley companies who argue that this is not only anti-women, but also prevents talented spouses of H-1B visa holders from working in the United States.

Meanwhile, the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia has extended the time for various stakeholders, including the Department of Homeland Security to submit its responses on the lawsuit against it filed by the organisation Save Jobs USA.

In September, Save Jobs USA which had filed the lawsuit urged the court to remove the abeyance and move forward with the case.

The case is before a three-member bench including Indian-American Sree Srinivasan. The move comes after the Department of Homeland Security sought a stay on all existing deadlines because of the more than one-month-long partial shutdown of the federal government.

Save Jobs USA has expressed its disappointment over the slow progress on this issue.

The Trump administration is reviewing the H-1B visa policy that it thinks is being misused by companies to replace American workers.

The administration has said publicly and also in its court filing that it wants to revoke work permits to H4 visa holders, a significant majority of whom are Indian-Americans and women.

The move will have a major impact on Indian women as they are the major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there were as many as 419,637 foreign nationals working in the US on H-1B visas as on October 5. Of these, 309,986 were Indians.

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| Edited by: Aditya Sharma
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