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More bad news for H-1B visa holders? Trump administration may freeze jobs for spouses

Develoment comes barely a week after the US assured India that the H1-B visas issue was not a priority for it and would be part of the larger immigration reforms package.

BT Online   New Delhi     Last Updated: March 8, 2017  | 13:55 IST
More bad news for Indian Americans? Trump administration may freeze jobs for spouses

Even as the uncertainty over the H1-B visa persists, there could be more bad news waiting for Indians working in America as the Trump administration now seeks a 60-day freeze on employment authorisation for H-4 visa-holders that allows spouses of H-1B visa-holders to work in the US.

The move will affect at least thousands of Indian who are living there in the US on H-4 visa.

Develoment comes barely a week after the US assured India that the H1-B visas issue was not a priority for it and would be part of the larger immigration reforms package. Ever since Donald Trump took over as US president he wanted to cut down the numbers of immigrant labour in the country as his entire election campaign revolved around "Buy American. Hire American".

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The Times of India on Wednesday reported that the Trump administration's Department of Justice has filed a brief in the Washington DC court of appeals seeking a 60-day freeze in a case involving employment permission for H-4 visa-holders, who are primarily dependent spouses of H-1B visa-holders.

Earlier in 2015, former US President Barack Obama had issued a rule through the department of homeland security allowing eligible spouses to be employed while the H-1B visa-holder awaits the receipt of his/her lawful permanent residency card (green card).

Thousands of Indian spouses (holding H-4 visa) come in this category.

Soon after the rule was issued, a group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit, but a district court ruled that it had no locus standi to sue and upheld the Obama administration's rule, the report said.

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However, after Donald Trump took over, Save Jobs USA again filed its initial brief and found immediate support from the DOJ, which filed a document on February 1, 2017 titled "Consent motion to hold proceedings in abeyance for 60 days".

It has sought 60 days to respond to the case that challenges the decision of the previous Obama Administration to authorise spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US.

Reacting to the Trump administration's latest move, Immigration Voice on Tuesday said that this is "especially concerning" because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when he was a US Senator, called the H-4 Rule a "change (in) immigration law in a way that hurts American workers."

Immigration Voice also announced to intervene in the Save Jobs lawsuit arguing that this was the "only option" to protect the rights of its members and their families, including children who are US citizens.

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"There is nothing for the Department of Justice attorneys to confer with their leadership about given the District Court's clear decision stating that this case had no basis for ever being filed," said Aman Kapoor co-founder and president of Immigration Voice.

Last week, the US had assured India that the H-1B visas issue was not a priority for it and would be part of the larger immigration reforms package.

The US said it to the visiting Commerce Secretary Rita Teotia and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who were in America meeting top officials of the Trump administration and the Congressional leadership.


"If the Trump Administrations intention is to bring back American companies to America and attract more foreign investment in America and therefore have more growth in the near term, then it was important growing America remains competitive. So, there would actually be (a) growing need for this partnership," Jaishankar had said.

H-1B, he noted, was a trade and business issue and not an economic issue, even though in the US context it was seen as part of the immigration basket.

(With inputs from PTI)


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