Immigration Laws for H4 Visas Need to Change


Among the visa categories issued by the U.S., the category of H4 visas will potentially undergo an overhaul in the immigration law changes proposed this year. In its commitment to attract and retain skilled laborers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed extending work authorizations to spouses of highly-skilled immigrants. H4 visa holders, also referred as “dependents,” are spouses or children of H1-B category workers residing in the U.S.

An H4 visa holder is currently allowed to stay for up to six years in the U.S. They are not, however, eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) or granted the right to gain profitable employment. H4 visa holders are permitted to own a bank account, obtain a driver’s license and are issued an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes in the U.S. They are also allowed to study on the visa. They are not, however, qualified to apply for a student loan. With nearly 30,000 H4 visas issued annually, there has also been a petition filed to address the increasing feeling of dissatisfaction among H4 visa holders, chiefly wives, who are forced to remain unemployed.

Under the sanction, spouses have to wait until they procure their Green Card before they can go to work. The current wait time for immigrants from China is six years, and for Filipinos as much as seven years. Indians have to wait at least 11 years. According to Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce, many couples tire of waiting for their Green Cards and leave the U.S. to find work in other countries. Australia and Canada are countries which participate more aggressively in the global competition for highly-trained workers in science, technology and engineering. As a result these countries operate more generous policies for the families of the immigrant workers that they desire.

The proposed change will allow H4 dependent spouses to gain employment authorization, as long as the H-1B worker has initiated the process for a lawful permanent residence in the U.S through their employment company. Once the new immigration laws have been implemented, the DHS will start issuing Employment Authorization Cards (EAD). The change will benefit almost 100,000 H4 visa holders in 2014.

With this proposed change in the law, immigrants can remain in the country while they wait, and their spouses on H4 visas would be able to work during the waiting period for Green Cards as well. Representative Judy Chu, a Democrat representing a Californian district with voluminous immigrant communities, has commended the proposed change as a good start in protecting immigrant families. Chu said that the policy of denying spouses the right to work is ill-conceived and has gone on too long.

Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is confident that these reforms “will help the U.S. maintain competitiveness with other countries in our efforts to attract the best and the brightest high-skilled workers from around the world.” The discretion for this proposed change in the immigration law will fall to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike the comprehensive reforms which were passed by the Senate, but is stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives, there is very little chance that the reform will get strangled in Congress.

As the ruling on visas awaits a decision, many large software companies are waiting, hoping that the change will mean that they will soon be able to bring in qualified H1-B workers who do not want to immigrate due to the H4 dependent immigration laws. In order for them to do this, the laws will need to change first.

By Nilofar Neemuchwala

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The American Bazaar

New York Times

Petition 2 Congress

27 Responses to "Immigration Laws for H4 Visas Need to Change"

  1.   November 25, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Rita I absolutely agree with you. Why not come on H1 visa if highly qualified. In India women marry IT professionals only to come to USA on H4 visa and to live here then why act like a drama queen. Sorry No Sympathy!!

  2. Rita Shukla   October 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Everyone knew the limitations of H4 visa. Before coming to usa. If you think you’re highly skilled workers just come to USA on H1 visa only .

    • Sarah   October 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      I hope you know that there is just 85000 quotas for H1B and out of this, 20000 is reserved for people who obtained advanced degrees from American universities. From last 3 years, no of H1B applications received have been around 120000-125000 and thousands of people didn’t get H1B. I have a advanced degree and my H1B was filed in 2013 and mine went to lottery and never made through the lottery. I had paid $5000 to file my H1B and now I am sitting at home and my degree is gathering dust and my knowledge wasted. By the time I will get work authorization, I ll be old to enter job market. This country denies people like us the basic need to work which leads to depression and numerous other problems. I and my husband have decided to move back to India next year because of me not able to work even though my husband works in top 20 Fortune 500 co. at a senior position and his green card is going on but I can’t handle the life here. Also the green card process is so slow and unpreditable we have already bought a house in India incase green card process leads nowhere atleast we ll have roof above our head, and we have withdrawn almost $112000 out of here for our house in India and there are many many people like us and I think it’s a loss to US economy. We ll go to India and we ll find jobs but if US had given us green card then we had bought a house here (invested in US economy). But now that even I have no H1B or other type of work auth, we absolutely see no reason to be here.

      So Just because there is H1B doesn’t mean that everyone will get H1B. Check facts before writing anything.

      • Rita Shukla   October 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

        Yes there are many application for H1 vusa .Everyone shouldn’t get H1 .IT’S based on highly skilled workers around the world not JUST India . So system is fare to every country not just India .

        • clinton   November 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

          Well Rita’s just a biatch

      • Sami   August 3, 2015 at 7:36 am

        I fully agree with you Sarah. It’s not that only highly qualified people can work in the U.S. What about the women like us who holds a graduate degree, was earning a decent salary in India for a U.S. Corporate companies. As soon as she enters US she is not qualified enough to work in the U.S. It’s not about being highly qualified to be able to work in the U.S. It’s about contributing to the household income and trying to improve your standard of living as everybody knows what kind of hardship the majority of so called highly employed H1 people faces because of highly low salary as compared to their U.S. Counterpart.

    • Waiting   October 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      America is land of equal opportunity ! Does it really ?? Does asian are left behind in immigration ? Does California support legal immigration ??? Just QQQQ

  3. mpca   September 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Of course, Foreigners steal you job. But maybe, if someone without contacts, money or speaking the language steals your job, you’re ….

  4. Wiser   September 7, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    There are no statistics of the qualifications about those Americans who have no jobs. I bet they have not even gone to college. Just sitting at home after age 18 and ranting about job is not the solution. First make yourself capable to get a job, then only you can get one!

    • Say What?   September 8, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Actually there are statistics that U.S. college graduates are having a hard time finding jobs.

  5. Astar   September 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I am studying in Grad school in a UC university. All my batchmates are either Chinese or Indian. I wonder where are the Americans. I see them only in shops, magazines etc. Most of them dont even finish college then how do they expect to get a job. First be qualified enough to get a job, then worry about immigrants who are better qualified anyway.

    • Rita Shukla   October 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I# you’re highly qualified why are you here on H4 visa ??? Why don’t you have H1

      • thinking   October 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

        were you born dumb or had brain injury that impact your thinking.have you thought about women who marry h1b visa want them first get h1b visa and then get married.

        • Rita Shukla   October 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm

          Everyone knew the limitations of H1visa .even merried women. Now a dats all women knows more about Ameican system. If they are facing abuses call 911 .or any Indian organization will help those women.

  6. Hima   September 7, 2014 at 9:36 am

    the millions who are out of jobs are not skilled spouses of skilled workers… meaning they have studied and graduated from college and masters — and not getting “teen and pregnant” or “catching up with the Kardasians” while trying to live the life of a hiphop star or football star. Being a fan of baseball is great …. but you really have to work hard/ learn hard/ put in the time and energy to be at the level of these ladies who are sitting at home for only because of their visa.
    It is not that the millions of americans you are talking about are applying for the jobs that these ladies would/ could target. If americans did — as an employer why would you not hire one of those million americans if they are qualified.
    I think we are fighting 2 different battles here – but mixing them somehow. Education/ learning/ unemployment of college dropouts or history/ psychology majors is a different problem and that will largely remain unaffected. Actually – there will be more spending in the communities we live which will help the manufacturing sector kind of employment.

    • FU Moderchod   September 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      that is a load of sh!t for sure, more Indian lies. All I hear from you c*nt, is how Americans are stupid, why don’t you go back to India, the land of gang-rape and sh!ting in the streets, and live with all of the geniuses in your country. H4 means you are not a citizen,why can’t you turds get that through your curry heads? Even someone here who watches TV all day, has more rights to a job than you. Get the F out of our country, go home c*nt

      • Ray   September 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

        Your name/ID says it all! You didn’t have even a valid response to the good points made by Hima. All you can do is use bad language as a cover up and what else can you do with your pathetic life anyway. LOL!
        It’s not your country, it belongs to the RED INDIANS and you stole it from them.
        I bet you didn’t know that dimwit!

      • LK   September 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Hey racism called – they want their racist idiot back…

  7. AmercanITWorker   September 7, 2014 at 1:57 am

    92.5 million legal American residents are out of the labor. They need those jobs
    And no need for more foreign workers

  8. Satish   September 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Ryan : may I ask your qualifications ?

  9. Go Home Visa, and take your spouse with you   September 6, 2014 at 11:55 am

    oh, Americans definitely agree that we need some “change” with H4 visas, and H1B visas. And the kind of change we need, we wants, is for H1B job robber scabs and their H4 spouses to go home and get the F out of our country

    • Rich   September 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      It is NOT your country. You stole it from the Red Indians. Get your facts straight before you spew more garbage. Without the foreigners, people like you will continue to make this country dumber!

    • Satish   September 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      may I ask your qualifications ?

  10. tim   September 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

    the law will make it as a right.

  11. ryan   September 5, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Before coming US, they made a choice to be here. EAD is not their right. There are millions of americans who are looking for job.

    • Ani   September 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Hey Ryan, you are right we made a choice before coming to USA of not working.

      But our green card is being processed right now and there is a long wait. All we are saying is to allow only those to work who are going to become citizens. Its a 5-10 years wait for the process.

  12. ryan   September 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm



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