Skilled immigrant spouses to be granted work permits

Immigration Petition I130The spouses of a number of high-skilled immigrants who work in the United States will soon be able to obtain their own form of work authorization, the Obama administration announced yesterday. The regulation will be published today and come into effect in three months’ time.

This move had already been planned before President Obama’s announcement in November that he was taking executive action on immigration reform. Certain people who possess H-4 dependent spouse US visas whose partners are seeking lawful permanent resident status based on employment – otherwise referred to as a green card – will be impacted by the change, as they will now have the legal right to work in the United States while their spouse’s application is being processed.

Up to 179,600 individuals will be eligible to submit an application for employment authorization within the first year of the scheme, according to the US government, and as many as 55,000 per annum in future years. “Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” says US Citizenship and Immigration Services director Leon Rodriguez.

This announcement was made at a time when Congress remains embroiled in a battle over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security, which Republicans have been using as leverage in a bid to try to reverse Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform.