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Home / News / India /  Big relief for spouses of H1B workers as Biden withdraws Trump-era plan to kill H4 work permits

On day seven, the Biden administration delivered a huge win for the dependents of the H-1B visa holders in America who spent the last four years worried sick that their work authorisations would be killed off.

Nearly a lakh Indian spouses can now breathe a sigh of relief as the H-1B visa holders can continue working in the US, according to reports.

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The latest development brings to an end years of effort by the Donald Trump administration to rescind a measure that had been brought in during the Barack Obama presidency in 2015 that allowed a certain subset of spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US.

Up until the summer of 2015, H4 visa holders could not legally hold paid employment in America. Almost as soon as Barack Obama changed the game, the lawsuits followed and then the Donald Trump presidency took the attack on the H4 work permit to a whole new level.

The Trump administration had proposed to revoke it as part of his anti-immigration policy.

The latest development is expected to provide relief to over 1 lakh Indian nationals who had moved to the US along with their spouses for work.

The rule allows qualified spouses of H-1B visa holders to contribute to the American economy.

More than 90% of the 100,000-odd H-4 EAD holders are Indians, and over 93% of them are women.

After the Trump administration started taking concrete steps to rescind the program, US vice president Kamala Harris, then a California senator, objected to the "outrageous" move, reports Hindustan Times. Calling on the DHS to withdraw the proposal, Harris had said that the decision will force immigrant doctors, scientists and academics to abandon their professional careers.

"This is outrageous & will force immigrant women who are doctors, nurses, scientists & academics, among others, to abandon their professional careers. I called on DHS last year to withdraw this proposal & will continue to fight this," she had tweeted in February 2019.

On text messages, chat groups and online threads, the outpouring of relief played out online on Tuesday evening. "Great news! Hopefully H4EAD delays will be ending soon which is leading to a long wait for dependent spouses," tweeted Rashi Bhatnagar.

Sharmistha Mohapatra posted, "Big win for H4 EAD holders today. Former Pres Trump's EO to rescind H4 EAD is now withdrawn by POTUS. Let's hope excruciating long wait times often resulting in job loss is taken away too!"

The decision to rescind the proposed rule on revoking the H4 work permit came on the same day Biden signed an executive order calling for the practice of racial equity in the United States.

Data from the US government show that the Indian and Chinese workers account for the lion's share of H1B visas.

H4 visas typically follow the same trajectory. Indians filed 74% of all H1B petitions in the fiscal year 2019. Chinese filed 11.8%.

With agency inputs

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