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Indians make up 93pc of work permit granted to H-1B visa holders’ spouses

From 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can apply to work legally in the US. The Trump administration is reportedly going to propose for its rollback over the next few weeks. Source: Shutterstock

Spouses of H-1B visa holders who are waiting for their green cards are allowed to work and open businesses in the United States under the H-4 dependent visa. As of December 2017, as many as 126,852 work permits have been approved.

New data now shows that of the 90,946 spouses who applied for the H-4 visas successfully from 2015 to 2017, a whopping 93 percent are from India.

“Ninety-three percent of approved applications for H-4 employment authorisation were issued to individuals born in India, and five percent were issued to individuals born in China. Individuals born in all other countries combined make up the remaining two percent of approved applications,” Congressional Research Service said in its nine-page report.

NDTV reported that 84,360 of the work permits were granted to applicants from India while another 4,608 are from China. More than 20 percent of the work permits were granted to those living in California.

The Obama-era policy, known as the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses, is expected to be rolled back by a proposal which will be unveiled over the next few weeks, according to San Francisco ChronicleThe move is said to be “in light of” the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order that US President Donald Trump signed last April.

The H-4 visa program is a lifeline to spouses of H-1B visa holders, supporters say. It allows families to have a second income – vital especially for those living in pricey areas – and for women to continue their professional careers.

“Revoking their employment authorization is such a punitive measure,” said Alex Nowrasteh, senior immigration policy analyst at think-tank Cato Institute said to CNN.

“This is a group for which it’s only a matter of time before they also get their green card.” Giving them jobs increases economic output, growth and creates more jobs in the US, he added.

Critics, including Save Jobs USA, say the program takes jobs away from Americans. Save Jobs USA comprises of tech workers in California who claim Indian programmers stole their jobs.

In its federal lawsuit filed to to block the H-4 rule after it was announced, Save Jobs USA said the regulation “clearly allows aliens to compete with Save Jobs USA members in their job market because it allows 179,600 aliens to work anywhere in the United States—an injury in fact to participants in the entire labor market.”

Nowrasteh disagrees, saying: “The notion that there’s a fixed number of jobs and that if an immigrant takes a job it’s one less job for an American is wrong … Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities.”

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