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US lawmakers introduce bill to automatically grant H-4 visa holders the right to work in America

Two U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that seeks to grant H-4 visa holders an automatic right to work in the country, a move that will benefit the spouses of thousands of foreigners, including Indians , and will also tackle the labor shortage affecting American businesses.

H-4 visas are issued to spouses and dependent children accompanying H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States. Many H-4 visa holders are highly skilled people in their own right and have already had their own careers or worked to support their families.

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations requiring academic or technical expertise. Tech companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees every year in countries like India and China.

While H-2A visas are issued to people with temporary agricultural jobs, H-2B visas are for people with temporary non-agricultural jobs, and H-3 visas are for non-immigrant interns or exchange visitors. special education.

Introduced Thursday by Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux and Maria Elvira Salazar, the H-4 Work Authorization Act seeks to change current law and grant spouses of H-1B visa holders an automatic right to work after receiving their H-4 visa.

This would remove the requirement for visa holders to apply for Form I-765, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), they said.

The two lawmakers said the bill aims to address the nation’s labor shortage that affects American businesses and help immigrant families prosper together. Currently, the spouses of highly skilled immigrants must fight through years of bureaucratic paperwork before being allowed to work in the United States.

This bill removes these unnecessary barriers to ensure that families can contribute and prosper together. If we are to continue to be competitive and attract the greatest minds and talents from around the world, we must ensure that family members of high-value immigrants can build lives and careers in the United States, like all the world, says Bourdeaux.

Salazar said this policy will help the United States maximize its entrepreneurial spirit and continue to lead job creation, innovation, research and development, and economic growth by addressing critical labor market needs. work.

Currently, H-4 visa holders must apply for work authorization and wait for it to be processed before they can work, even if they are already in the United States and their spouse is working here.

Due to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) backlog, work authorization applications can take six to eight months, with some applications taking over a year to be approved.

The bill, which has been endorsed by the National Forum on Immigration and the nonprofit advocacy organization UnidosUs, hopes to address the labor shortage in the United States and allow these incumbents visa to work quickly and support their families. It could also help reduce the backlog of USCIS work authorization applications by providing immediate work authorization to H-4 visa holders and reducing the number of work authorizations USCIS must process. , according to a press release.

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