Reversal of Work Authorization for H-4 Spouses Now Under Review


The Trump Administration has proceeded with plans to rescind the H-4 work authorization program, which has allowed certain H-4 spouses of H-1B visa holders in the United States to apply for EADs [employment authorization documents] since 2015.

On February 20, 2019, the Trump administration sent a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review that would halt work authorization for H-4 spouses. If OMB approves, the administration is expected to move forward with the regulatory process, including publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and requesting public comments. Publication of a final rule could take months, and new legislation or lawsuits could have an impact.

According to information DHS filed with OMB, “DHS anticipates that there would be two primary impacts [of the rule] that DHS can estimate and quantify: the cost-savings accruing to forgone future filings by certain H-4 dependent spouses, and labor turnover costs that employers of H-4 workers could incur when their employees’ EADs are terminated. Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold, as the proposed rule would no longer allow H-4 workers to enter the labor market early.”


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