DHS to Allow H-4 Visa Holders to Request Employment Authorization

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided details on the proposed rule that would permit the husband or wife of H-1B visa holders to apply for employment authorization documents. This rule, that will allow the H-4 visa holders to get work permits to work here legally, will soon be published in the Federal Register. Under this new rule, H-4 dependents of H-1B workers, who are beneficiaries of approved immigrant petitions and who have been granted extension of stay under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), would be permitted to apply for work permits.

Under the existing laws, the husband or wife of a H-1B worker can get a H-4 non-immigrant visa and come to the U.S. but cannot work here. This new rule proposed by the DHS would allow eligible dependents to request employment authorization. This initiative would attract highly skilled foreign workers and permit them to remain in the U.S. At the same time, it would also support U.S. businesses and benefit the country’s economy. This rule change would have a positive effect on the H-4 dependants of more than 100,000 H-1B workers.

This H-1B visa program helps U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers who have specialized skills in engineering, programming, science and other high-tech fields. At times, U.S. employers who sponsor foreign workers for H-1B visas also sponsor them for legal permanent resident status (green card status) by filing the immigrant petition, Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The proposed rule would benefit the H-4 husbands or wives of H-1B workers for whom immigrant petitions have been filed and who are in the process of applying for green cards based on employment, by allowing them to apply for employment authorization documents.