The spouses of H-1B visa holders will once again be allowed to work in the U.S. after the Biden administration reversed a previous plan proposed by the Trump Administration. The declaration made on Feb. 10 was met with praise by non-immigrant families of H-1B visa holders who are skilled foreign workers in areas such as technology, medicine, science and engineering.
A number of spouses of H-1B visa holders are known to work in the same industries as their husbands and wives. The Biden administration move was not only praised by non-immigrant families but also by U.S. companies that have become more and more reliant on specialized foreign workers.
Spouses considered returning abroad
The Trump proposal, initially discussed in 2017 but never fulfilled, would have prevented roughly 100,000 foreign citizens – predominately women from India – from seeking work in the U.S. Spouses and dependents of H-1B visa holders must have an H-4 temporary visa.
Many of these H-4 visa holders suggested that they would leave the country if not allowed to work here. Under the H-4 visa program, spouses may work in the U.S. as long as their partners pursue a green card as a permanent resident.
H-1B visas: lottery system remains in place
In related immigration-related news that same month, the Biden administration declared on Feb. 4 it would delay proposed changes regarding the selection process for H-1B visas. The Trump administration had planned to eliminate a lottery-based selection process, replacing it with a wage-based incentive program.
The lottery-based system will remain through the end of the year, while the Biden administration reviews, updates and tests systems. H-1B visas are highly sought by skilled workers many of whom hail from India, China, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines.
For years, the U.S. government has subscribed to a lottery system to issue 85,000 H1-B visas each year. From that number, 65,000 are issued to specialized foreign workers with 20,000 reserved for students who finished their education in the STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.