In a step that would benefit thousands of Indian Americans, the Joe Biden administration has agreed to provide automatic work authorisation permits to spouses of H-1B visas holders in the United States.
The settlement in this regard was reached by the Department of Homeland Security in a class-action lawsuit, which was filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), on behalf of immigrant spouses this summer.
“This (H-4 visa holders) is a group that always met the regulatory test for automatic extension of EADs (employment authorisation documents), but the agency previously prohibited them from that benefit and forced them to wait for reauthorisation. People were suffering. They were losing their high-paying jobs for absolutely no legitimate reason causing harm to them and US businesses,” Jon Wasden from AILA said.
The litigation successfully achieved the reversal of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy that prohibited H-4 spouses from benefiting from the automatic extension of their employment authorisation during the pendency of stand-alone EAD applications.
“Although this is a giant achievement, the party’s agreement will further result in a massive change in position for the USCIS, which now recognises that L-2 spouses enjoy automatic work authorisation incident to status, meaning these spouses of executive and managers will no longer have to apply for employment authorisation, prior to working in the United States,” AILA said.
AILA Director of federal litigation Jesse Bless said, “We are delighted to have reached this agreement, which includes relief for H-4 spouses, through our litigation efforts with Wasden Banias and Steven Brown.” “It is gratifying that the administration saw that settling the litigation for non-immigrant spouses was something that should be done, and done quickly,” he added.
The Obama administration had given work authorisation to particular categories of spouses of H-1B visa holders. So far, more than 90,000 H-4 visa holders, a significant majority of whom are Indian-American women, have received work authorisation.
(With inputs from agencies)