In a fantastic news for eligible H4 spouses of H1-B visa holders, the Biden administration has withdrawn a proposal to rescind the H4 EAD, work permit. The proposed rule, ‘Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization’ was initiated by the Trump administration and was being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).
OIRA has completed its review and concluded that it was withdrawing the proposed rule.
History Of The H4 EAD Program
In an effort to strangulate all existing immigration norms, the Trump administration had rolled out many new regulations that intended to halt, delay and completely stop these policies. The right to work for eligible H4 EAD visa holders was one such regulation started by the Obama administration in 2015. The DHS under the Trump administration started proceedings to end the H4 EAD and submitted the proposed regulation to terminate the work permit for H4 visa holders in February 2019.
Claiming that H4 EAD workers compromised the local job market, the DHS planned to rescind the right to work for these H4 visa holders. Challenged in court by several heads of prominent tech companies a court case was filed in the district courts with Save Jobs, a non-profit that fought to prove that EAD was not a threat to the American workforce.
By May 2020, DHS stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the working spouse of the H1-B holder was a threat to the American work force.
OIRA was left to review the final ruling.
Current State of H4 EAD
- Eligible H4 visa holders can continue to apply for Employment Authorization Document.
You Can Apply For H4 EAD In 2021
Here’s a step-by-step process for applying for H4 EAD
- Due to the covid-19 pandemic, receiving H4 EAD approvals from USCIS have been delayed. Processing timelines have exceeded 10 months in most service centers.
- Also due to the pandemic, USCIS relaxed the mandatory I-9 employment verification for H4 EAD job seekers until next month
- USCIS also introduced a biometric requirement for H4 visa holders which wasn’t done separately from the H1-B, primary beneficiary.
- Also, earlier, H1-B and H4 extensions were done correspondingly, but now H4 EAD visa holders have to apply for their extensions separately and in some cases, cannot combine it with the primary beneficiary.
- Due to Covid-19, many H4 EAD holders have succumbed to the rising unemployment in the U.S. Since their visa status is not tied to their employer, they are eligible for unemployment benefits from their states.
Outstanding Proposals For H4 EAD
- Due to so many processing delays, many have appealed that USCIS allow for automatic 180-day extensions while the renewal applications are pending. Currently, this is not available and they have to apply each time a renewal is required. Renewals can be applied for only 6 months in advance of its expiration.
- Another proposal is to introduce premium processing for H4 EAD adjudication. This would allow for a decision to be taken in 15 business days and avoid income loss for many eligible H4 EAD petitioners.