Two American congresswomen introduced a measure in the House of Representatives on Thursday that would grant H-4 visa holders the right to work automatically in the United States.
The two legislators who introduced the bill stated that its purpose is to address the labor shortage affecting American businesses and to help immigrant families flourish.
Spouses and children who accompany H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States are issued H-4 visas.
Numerous H-4 visa holders are highly-skilled individuals who have pursued their own professions or supported their families in the past.
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The H-4 Work Authorization Act, introduced by Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux and Maria Elvira Salazar, seeks to alter the current law and grant spouses of H-1B visa-holding immigrants the right to work automatically after obtaining their H-4 visa.
This would eliminate the need for visa holders to submit an application for Form I-765, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), they said.
“Currently, the spouses of highly skilled immigrants must endure years of bureaucratic red tape before they can work in the United States,” stated Bourdeaux.
“This bill eliminates these unnecessary obstacles so that families can contribute and prosper together. We must ensure that the family members of high-value immigrants are able to create a life and career in the United States, just like everyone else, if we are to remain competitive and continue to attract the greatest minds and talent from around the globe, she said.
Ms. Salazar stated that this policy will assist the United States in maximizing its entrepreneurial spirit and maintaining its leadership position in job creation, innovation, research, and economic growth by addressing critical labor market requirements.
Currently, H-4 visa holders must file for work authorization and wait for it to be processed before they can begin working, even if they are already in the United States and their spouse has a job.
Due to backlogs at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applications for work authorization can take anywhere from six to eight months to be approved, with some applications taking over a year.
The bill, which has been backed by the National Immigration Forum and UnidosUs, aims to address America’s labor shortage by allowing visa holders to work and support their families more swiftly.
It could also help reduce the congestion of work authorization applications at USCIS by granting immediate work authorization to H-4 visa holders and reducing the number of work authorizations that USCIS must process, according to a press release.