Many spouses of the holders of H-1B visas – the document that allows highly skilled foreign workers to remain temporarily employed in the U.S. – also work stateside. This group must possess a visa of a different type: the H-4 temporary visa for spouses and family members. However, for months, the professional fates of these spouses have hung in the balance.
Earlier this month, these H-4 visa holders received a vote of confidence from the President Joe Biden administration. The government on Feb. 10 announced its intentions to eliminate a plan designed to prevent spouses of H-1B visa holders from working here as well.
Uncertainty in the past four years
Biden’s directive quells a proposed plan under consideration since 2017 by President Donald Trump. That planned federal regulation would have made a significant impact on roughly 100,000 foreign citizens – a good number of them being women from India – currently living in the U.S.
Clouds of uncertainty hung for the past four years over the heads of the holders of H-4 visas, and many considered returning to their home countries. These spouses — and also highly skilled professionals themselves — come from all over the world, including India, China, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines.
Since 2015, spouses with H-4 visas were allowed to work in any type of industry as long as their partners were working on obtaining a green card. From the moment he had taken office, Trump and his administration cracked down hard on nearly every aspect of immigration. One of those groups caught in the immigration net was people with H-4 visas. Although the Trump administration proposed the rule, it did not follow through in making it a law.