The federal government has recently announced that it intends to move forward with its goal to rescind employment authorization from the spouses of H-1B holders. Since 2015, H-4 holders have been able to apply for employment authorization if their H-1B spouse has an I-140 petition that has been approved but for which the priority date is not current. However, the Department of Homeland Security has, since 2017, sought to eliminate this provision, though it has faced repeated obstacles and criticism. While the government claims that restricting H-4 employment will allow greater employment opportunities for American workers, critics maintain that prohibiting the spouses of H-1B holders from working places an unreasonable burden on the families of H-1B holders and limits employers’ ability to effectively recruit the skilled workers the H-1B visa is designed to attract.
Currently, the rule stripping H-4 holders of their right to employment authorization is under review with the Office of Management and Budget and awaiting approval from the White House Office for Information and Regulatory Affairs. Should the rule be approved, it will be published and the public will be able to comment on it before it is finalized.