Good news for spouses of US H-1B visa holders

PM ADDRESSING A GATHERING IN SYDNEYReinforcing its credentials as a nation of immigrants, the US has announced that it will provide work permits to spouses of H1B visa holders, triggering much rejoicing among Indian-American community.

This policy step will benefit thousands of high-skilled Indian spouses who migrate to America, but are not eligible to work under current immigration policies.

The move has been welcomed by Indian- Americans. “This decision is going to directly affect many of our life members as they would now be able to join the professional workforce and chase the American Dream,” the Telugu Association of North America said in a statement.

According to official estimation, the number of people eligible to apply for employment authorisation could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. US State Department statistics show that almost 76 per cent of those who received H-4 status in 2013 were from South Asian countries.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement this change from May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H4 dependent spouse receives an Employment Authorisation Card, he or she may begin working in the US.

The conditions include that the principal H1B worker has an approved I-140 or is currently on an extended H1B status beyond the six-year limitation based upon an I-140 petition application pending for at least 365 days (one calendar year).

In a statement, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) hailed the decision of changing immigration policies. “Many H4 dependent spouses have found themselves to be involuntary homemakers upon their arrival to the US, which not only impacts their family income and sustainability, but also diminishes their ability to expand upon professional skills,” SAALT in a statement.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome first-step that will dramatically help some families in the U.S. but the success of H1B workers, their families and our nation’s economic growth is limited when only some H4 visa holders are eligible for work authorisation,” it added.

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