Work Permits for H-4 Visa Holders

The H-1B visa program is meant for highly skilled foreign workers. However, foreign workers cannot apply for these visas by themselves and they must be sponsored by U.S. employers. Around 85,000 H-1B visas are issued every year. H-4 visas are issued to the dependents of H-1B workers. Earlier these H-4 nonimmigrant visas did not allow the holders to work here. With those visas, they were only allowed to come to the U.S. and stay here.

The Obama administration has announced a visa rule revision that will allow some husbands or wives of H-1B visa holders to apply for work permits. This rule applies to the husbands or wives of H-1B visa holders who have filed applications for legal permanent status (green card status) in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), during the first years, this new rule will allow around 179,000 H-4 visa holders to apply for employment authorization documents. Followed by that, around 55,000 H-4 visa holders would become eligible for work permits, every year.

According to Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this new rule will encourage more foreign workers to come to the U.S. on H-1B visas and apply for green card status. This visa rule will attract more workers and also boost the country’s economy.

This new rule is a big relief to many H-4 dependents. Most of the H-4 dependents are highly skilled, but they had to remain at home as their visa category did not allow them to work here. Since the Obama administration has now made revisions, many H-4 dependents will become eligible for work permits. Many H-4 dependents who are highly skilled and were unable to put their skills to productive use, will now be able to work here legally. Requests for work permits from eligible H-4 visa holders will be accepted by the USCIS from May 26, 2015.