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Automatic job authorisation for spouses of H-1B visa holders

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 17, Nov 2021
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Reference News:

The United States has agreed to provide automatic work authorisation permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders — a move that is likely to benefit thousands of Indian professionals based in the US.

  • As per the latest amendments, while L-1 spouses will be given the extension without applying for it, H-4 visa holders will still have to apply for the extension after their employment permit expires.

Significance of the move:

This policy amendment is likely to be particularly beneficial for Indian women whose spouses hold H-1B or L-1 visas, as they will now be allowed up to 180 days auto extension on work authorization.

Need for:

The American Immigration Lawyers’ Association had filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of immigrant spouses, many of whom have lost their jobs due to long processing delays for work authorization. 

H-4 and L2 visas: What’s the difference?

An H-4 visa is issued to the immediate family members (spouse and children under the age of 21) of H-1B visa holders. Over 94 per cent of H4 visa holders are women, and of these, around 93 per cent are from India.

L-1 visas are non-immigrant visas that are valid for a relatively short time. With this visa, multinationals are able to shift foreign employees to their US offices for specialised positions on a temporary basis. The dependent spouse or unmarried children under 21 years of age of an L-1 visa holder are issued L-2 visas to enter the United States. L2 visa holders can acquire EAD (Employment Authorisation Documents) to find employment.

What are H-1B work visas?

  • In 1952, after the US started expanding its presence in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, it felt the need to hire quality workers who could help the country achieve innovation in these areas at reasonable costs. The need to hire workers paved way for the introduction of the H-1 work visa system in US.
  • This work visa system was further subdivided into H-1B, H-2B, L1, O1, and E1 visas, depending on the qualification required and the area for which workers were sought.
  • Of these, the H-1B visa remains the most popular due to the relatively better wage chance it offers.