Buried in the newest Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs bulletin is the announcement that the Trump administration plans to end employment authorization for H-1B spouses who hold H-4 visas.
For years, H-4s did not receive work authorization, and understood that when they came to the United States with their H-1B nonimmigrant spouses seeking legal permanent residency status that they would not be lawfully employable. Then, in 2015, and after intense pro-immigration lobbying President Obama, without Congress’, approval authorized H-4s’ employment.
Leon Fresco, an Obama administration immigration lawyer who the Wall Street Journal cited, said: “This announcement places into jeopardy thousands of hardworking, contributing individuals who have started their own businesses—and often have U.S. citizen children—who will needlessly be forced to revert to a status of inactivity.”
But an immigration lawyer I contacted told me that starting a business doesn’t require a work authorization visa. However, if the owner intends to work at his establishment, he would need one.
For unemployed or under-employed Americans, rescinding H-4 work permits means that over the next two years, about 80,000 jobs could become available that foreign nationals currently hold. And going forward, H-4s won’t be able to legally apply for jobs, and therefore, assumedly, will not be hired—more opportunities for Americans.
On the downside, however, the proposed H-4 changes won’t be reviewed until 2018, and other employment-based visa abuses like the L-1 will not be considered at all. The L-1 visa allows foreign workers, allegedly in the managerial, executive or specialized knowledge category to enter the U.S. to continue employment with the same employer, its parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate. Intracompany transfers means Americans cannot apply for jobs for the simple reason that they’re never posted as available.
Still, half a loaf is better than none, and that’s exactly what U.S. workers will get when the White House reverses the Obama administration’s unconstitutional executive H-4 order allowing the holders employment authorization.