Since the announcement from the US DHS (Department of Homeland Security), to implement certain amendments for H-4 visas, it is impertinent we look at what these visas mean to the layman.
H-4 visas are:
- Issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age of the H-1B visa holders)
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services allows immediate family members of H visa holders (H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3) to get H-4 visas to lawfully come and stay in the US.
- These visas are usually issued at the local US consulate office abroad. However, if the person is already in US, he or she can obtain H-4 status by filing Form I-539 for change of status.
- H-4 visa holders are not eligible to get a Social Security Number and cannot be employed, but they can hold a driver’s license, open bank accounts, and get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for US tax purposes
- Family members may alternatively be admitted in other non-immigrant categories for which they qualify, such as the F-1 category for children or spouses who will be students or the H-1B category for a spouse whose employer has also obtained approval of an H-1B visa petition to employ the spouse. An H-4 visa holder is admitted to the US for the duration of the primary (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3) visa validity.
- Since H-4 visa holders are not issued a social security number, they are not authorized to work in the United States, though they are allowed to study
As part of immigration laws the US is making provisions to implement some amendments to the H4 visas this year. The demand for skilled workers is so huge that the Govt is mulling over the idea of making slight amendments to its visa provisions and make use of the skills of workers, who would have otherwise not been employed.
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed “work authorization” access to spouses of highly skilled immigrants. As per the to-be-modified reforms:
- Skilled workers of immigrants will be allowed to gain access to employment authorization, if their spouses have begun the process to obtain a legal US permanent residency through their employment firm
- Immigrants will be allowed to stay in the country during the waiting period as their spouses await green card
- This would help many software companies to recruit skilled immigrant labour holding H1-B visas
- This is also a step to protect skilled immigrants from leaving the country due to lack of proper provisions to their families
- Aimed to attract the best skilled labour from across the world.
News Source: Visa Reporter