H-1B Spouses Working Under H-4 Visas May Soon Be Forced Out of Work

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is poised to make a decision on the employment eligibility status of H-4 visa holders, who are the spouses of those here on H-1B visas.

In an update to the “Unified Agenda” under the United States Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a decision on H-4 visas is expected to come sometime in May (which is ending soon). More broadly, the decision is poised to arrive in “Spring 2019,” which ends June 20.

The current H-4 visa employment eligibility for spouses of H-1B visa holders was set in 2015. Now, the DHS is trying to turn it upside down. From the proposal:

On February 25, 2015, DHS published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS is publishing this notice of proposed rule-making to amend that 2015 final rule. DHS is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.

In February of this year, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department proposed ending work eligibility for H-4 visa holders, calling it “economically significant” to do so. The proposal cited “the cost-savings accruing to forgone future filings by certain H-4 dependent spouses, and labor turnover costs that employers of H-4 workers could incur when their employees’ EADs are terminated” as reason to prevent h-4 spouses from employment. More:

Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold, as the proposed rule would no longer allow H-4 workers to enter the labor market early.

The United States Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs falls under the Office of Management and Budget, which has oversight on all “Unified Agenda” policies to make sure they are cost effective. At this point, it could rebuff the H-4 change altogether, but that’s unlikely. It’s part of President Trump’s broader “America First” policy.

If employment eligibility for H-4 visa holders is amended by June 20 as planned, publication of the new rule would trigger a public comment period, where anyone with an interest is free to let the government know how they feel. Unfortunately, this is rarely effective in reversing course, save for very rare instances of truly widespread public outrage.

Back in 2017, when President Trump began prodding at the H-1B visa program, his administration decided that the H-4 visa was a prime target for revision or elimination. At the time, a formal process for revoking work eligibility for H-4 visa holders hadn’t been initiated. Now it seems a decision is imminent.

72 Responses to “H-1B Spouses Working Under H-4 Visas May Soon Be Forced Out of Work”

    • kavya

      Really. Then you should study more to compete with H1 and H4 rather than crying. People here are not that intelligent that’s why companies are hiring foreign educated and experienced candidates. You should prove your skills.

      • Penelope

        Dream on! You’ve lost your mind if you think American Workers in IT don’t have better skills than you! Learn respect 1st, then learn to communicate effectively. This includes oral & written!!! But, even then you might save enough to take back to your country if your lucky…sorry for honesty & my experience working with foreigners.. Your in my Country!!! Not yours…

      • Penelope

        Dream on! You’ve lost your mind if you think American Workers in IT don’t have better skills than you! Learn respect 1st, then learn to communicate effectively. This includes oral & written!!! But, even then you might save enough to take back to your country if your lucky…sorry for honesty & my experience working with foreigners.. Your in my Country!!! Not yours…

  1. Ernie Rapson

    The flood of H-1b visa holders in recent years has severely hampered job seekers who are US Citizens. Buy American, Hire American… not Buy foreign, Hire foreign.

      • Laurel

        I get lots of offers to work in India – all to train their people because they lack the skills of US workers which I refuse to do. So – sorry no they are not more intelligent. They have phony degrees, the India consulting firms bought universities there & they manufacture degrees. That is why we get teams to manage that have master degree but cannot complete the work without samples from US staff of how to do it.

  2. SHAH S

    Great news.. it is time leeches and bloodsucking parasites are blocked from stealing jobs. Once these spouses stay home or go back to wherever dark alleys they came from, some sanity will return to jobs market opening doors for us US Citizens. Sooner it done the better for us all.

      • sammy

        Not to offend anyone, but canceling H-1B, OPT, L-1, B-1 does not provide jobs to American workers, most probably these jobs will end up getting outsourced, the main benefit from these visas is that the companies can hire for a very short period of times, especially in contracting positions from 3 months up to 1 year period. Plus these workers are able to move very easily to any part of the country, that is not the case with American workers, they will never move from CA to NY for a 3-month project with their kids rather they will sit at home and collect unemployment. Plus these are not fulltime jobs, they are mostly contracting. The only thing the US will lose after getting these jobs outsourced is that tax that is being generated by these workers while they are in the US, the problem is the system, its not like Americans are less talented that foreigners and cannot work like them, I am a foreigner and I have worked with hundreds of Americans in multinational companies till now and they are as talented as their counterparts. If Americans are ready to relocate and not to look for a fulltime job I am 99% sure, these companies will never hire visa people, but that is not the case, we have hired lots of people so far, but very rarely we will get resumes from Americans for a 3-month job.

    • Tony Santos

      Too much fraud by some greedy Indians who fake docs, hire their own. The women can go home and care for the kids coz it’s the man who got the skills not her.

      • sunil singh

        Sad part is that majority of Americans do not know much and do not understand why these two visa programs are in place. Only thing they know is Americans loose jobs which is true to some extent and only in some situations but that’s not the complete picture.
        In many cases Spouses are equally or even highly skilled like doctors/ managers/ therapists and researchers.
        Skill workers come here lawfully so don’t blame them because they come and work hard , pay taxes, social and Medicare and then leave after someone time.
        If anyone to blame it’s the government who has not reformed the immigration policy. Bad actors are always there to take advantage of loop holes but that’s not the majority of h1b/h4.
        Please be respectful of workers who are equally contributing to the American economy. They don’t even stay here for Medicare or social security benefits. Their contributions are in many instances more than citizens.
        I hope world becomes a better place where people love each other and respect each other no matter which country or state. Being human first.

    • Stop fightining

      Very wrong. Please read what H4 is. And another note to everyone, if you hate immigrants then, first read the history of USA and secondly talk to your government to not allow immigrants. Immigrants come here for better future and americans are responsible for system being abused. Blaming Indians or chinese or Iranians is wrong. Everyone is abusing it

  3. Revanth

    It is USA immigration policy and it should benefit USA citizens. Talent has no boundaries though. I am really excited about the future of technology. AI, Driverless cars, IOT, Machine learning. Plenty of opportunities for people with talent across the world. Given that there are more jobs in technology sector that work force available and the gap is only going to get worse in the future, am surprised that some Americans think they cannot find a job because other people have the ability to perform a particular job. Did Google, Microsoft (insert any technology company for that matter) chose their CEOs because they are cheap H1B workers?

    • Maha Guru

      Of course there is room for talented folks in the fields that you mention!!! But ask yourself this: How many Indians coming on IT jobs are actually entering as experts in those fields/ So many are coming on H-1B and H-4 as testers and taking away jobs that many locals can easily do! Even the so-called s/w engineers are below average.. It was not way before 2000 but now it simply a flooding by Indian IT

      • Revanth

        Why will a profit hungry company hire a below avg engineer if they could get a local at the same cost and with much less hassle? Why do they have to hire H1B, pay their legal fees to retain them? If people argue that H1B is cheap labor, I see a lot of Americans work for salaries much less than 65k per year(which is the minimum DOL allows for H1B worker). Wont the companies find it simpler to hire them instead? Is it that minimum or below average talent is missing here?

        • It is not at all about talent. It is the bargaining power that blood sucking companies like TCS, Infosys, HCL, TechMahindra , Cognizant, Wipro have to offer to blood sucking US companies who dont want to deal with permanent employees and pay them benefits. The above Indian companies keep most of the monies and pay Indian software guys paltry salaries promising round the clock support and economies of scale to US counterparts. The above companies have the expertise to get around the H1b loopholes and scam the DHS. These companies are the true problem. They keep 50-80% of the money US companies pay them. So companies gain big time. Because of the dollar exchange rate the Indian software guys gain even though they are paid lower in most cases. In the past 10-15 years i have seen lot of Andhra and other people faking resume and skills, experience to get ahead in the rat race. Of course there are few talented people on h1b but most have done some targetted training and made it. But most skills are available here in US with little or some training. US Companies prefer contractors which is the problem. It is hard to find permanent job because of the competition with TCS and all the above companies. In summary H1b is an exploitative program and not good for US based workers.

        • Question: “Why will a profit hungry company hire a below avg engineer if they could get a local at the same cost and with much less hassle?”

          Answer:
          Companies do this because once they go through the hassle, the H-1B worker is tethered to them. That is a powerful incentive.
          A citizen can leave at the drop of a hat, while the H-1B has to risk visa denial on every job change.

      • Howie

        This is so true. Big companies outsource to Indian companies like Cognizant and Infosys expecting talent as promised. A lot of the guys they send over are just not qualified and are learning on the job. At the expense of recently displaced American workers who actually know how to do the work. The big companies focus on cost, then can’t figure out why the quality and schedule of projects falls behind. What’s frustrating is the big companies fall for this scam repeatedly.

      • I agree! Having worked in an all Indian IT co. in NJ, I clearly saw 1st hand the 100’s of stolen jobs!! They acted like I was the outcast, when they are all here on H1-b Visas! I was legal in US all my life & skilled!!

      • Babida

        The Indian took away all of the American tech jobs. Not because they are talent or anything, but for cheap price. They willing to take the job for $60,000 instead of $100,000 without any other benefits. Most of companies like Applied Materials, Veeco, Cisco, Google, etc. go through with HCL America or Tata Consultants instead of hiring employees like in the old way. HCL and TATA are Indian’s consultant companies. The companies paid them and they hire employees to work for their end clients. They are looking for Sr. engineers in America and paid around $70,000 without stocks and no chance of getting promotion. HCL and Tata keeps the $50,000 to get employees cheap health plans. The designer jobs or document control or easy job, they send to India. They take away all the easy jobs and give to the people on India. That’s terrible! All the high tech companies are like that now. I have a friend who got a Bachelor degree and 30 yrs of experienced, but can’t find a job with a decent pay because of companies cutting corners and go through with HCL America and Tata. HCL and Tata are stealing American’s jobs. All the managers and CEO hire Indian and brought in the companies. Some companies hired Chinese managers and the brought in Chinese employees. I can’t understand a word that they are saying. We can’t even communicate with each other. Most of the employees now are from India or China. The H1-b needs to stop immediately. The government need to stop the HCL and Tata companies too. That’s how they get away with stolen jobs from Americans. There are lots of scams that they try to pull, but the people don’t see it.

  4. TrueAns

    Lol, I agree, Indian should not get H1b and spouse should not get H4 EAD. They should directly get PR and an award of honor because they are much more talented than what they are getting on H1 and H4, I am surprised people are so scared because of Indian talent. Indians you are great. keep it up. Hehe

  5. Send all Under H4EAD back to Modi country and see how many of those ends up getting a meaningful job. May be 10%. And rest will end up producing babies. Most likely 90% of them!!!

  6. scdcdddd@hotmail.com

    Look, businesses have no conscience except money to please the owners. If there was a conscience that was not just about money, you would hire someone that was vested in the US, someone that had to face the draft or had a family member that did or committed and gave their life. Also businesses would give priority to hire someone that committed them selves to this country (I have 6 years on military commitment) and not someone of whom jumped ship on their country (country-jumpers).
    Americans of whom have vested ancestry in this country are now the minority in the tech work place.
    I have worked with many country-jumpers over the years, some of which are sharp and will jump in and help where they can but so many-many others that are average and seemingly just along for the paycheck. Of the two country-jumper groups, the larger majority have speak issues when it comes to communicating in the english language to the point where they are very difficult to understand. It makes no since to employee persons (country-jumpers) that are hard to understand and can just jump ship back to their country if things get bad except for $’s.

  7. Elections2020

    do it fast. 90 percent H4 EAD have grabbed IT jobs and Outsourcing companies have used H4 EAD as a means of cheap labor to replace americans. why is foreign H1b working on public money funded project at Univ of California San Fran ? why is foreign H1B ( aka cheap labor ) working on Federally funded ( public money ) IT projects ? Trump Administration should run audit finding out all such federally funded projects where H1B working flaunting rules and regulations.
    H1B was always temporary visa and should not buy Homes on visa it is financial blunder. you are 100 percent responsible for this financial decision so do not blame others now.
    San Fran Bay Area home prices are falling more than 70 % – 80 % in 2020 like 1929 The Great Depression.

  8. Country-Jumpers H-1B and H-4 Visa
    Look, businesses have no conscience except money to please the owners. If there was a conscience that was not just about money, you would hire someone that was vested in the US, someone that had to face the draft or had a family member that did or committed and/or gave their life for other US Citizens. With a conscience, you would, businesses would give priority to hire someone that committed themselves to this country (I have 6 years on military commitment) and not someone of whom jumped ship on their country (country-jumpers). Unfortunately, because of the lack of business-owner consciences, they must be deterred by law to do the right thing towards vested Americans.
    Americans of who have vested ancestry in this country are now the minority in the tech work place. I have worked with many country-jumpers over the years, some of which are sharp and will jump in and help where they can but so many-many others that are average and seemingly just along for the paycheck and other benefits. Of the two country-jumper groups, the larger majority have speech issues when it comes to communicating in the english language to the point where they are very difficult to understand. It makes no since to employee country-jumpers that are hard to understand and can just jump ship back to their country if things get bad here, except for $’s.

  9. Not all H1’s are talented. Most of the H4 EADs are getting trained somewhere and do the jobs. Any American can do those jobs. Only thing is salary. Any IT Job American do it. These H4 spouses are ready to work for any salary, as it just add the income. They are even ready for $15/hour wage. That is where Americans are out behind

  10. Not sure what to say, some folks has very bad image of h1b or h4, someone calling parasites, if you have qualification why you can not do job…people here still doesnt know how to operate a computer and you are talking about replacing…hope all h1b go back and see overall economy progress

  11. i am not against any country but the way these indian are flooded in to US IT, its crazy. you don’t need a PhD to figure out the reasons. i think the best possible solution is to have a country based quota for h1b so that people should just not start flooding from a single country like its happening now. Also i request Indian IT managers to please have open mind and also hire non-indians along with indians.

  12. HareKrishna

    I totally agree. H1B should have also country limit like green cards so that it has total mapping between green card and H1b. In this case H4 EAD situation will not arise.
    I would like to let @Tj know that lot of multinational company first search resources in US then only they offer any job to immigrants if they don’t find anyone. I know lot of Indian IT companies does recruitment drive for locals and freshers to first provide job to them.Non of the recruitment depends on nationality , it always depends on talent and skills. I think now a days H1B are soft targets instead of illegals.

  13. Good new on H-4 EAD. They are steeling jobs in local for less pay. We students are not getting jobs for good pay to run paycheck, i also heard about some H-1b people they also think the same way, remove H4 EAD.

  14. What is the point of having a Comments section here? All it does is invite those who are clueless about the matter in the article to spew their hatred against foreigners…

  15. Robert

    American corporations are hiring H1B because they can hire them at lesser rates, which in turn is driving down the overall rate structure. Any company that hires H1B (contract or full-time, which I have witnessed personally) should have a tax imposed on them for not hiring American workers. H1B’s for the most part are sending a portion of their incomes back to where ever they came from, so those funds leave the American economy.
    We need to keep those funds here in America to bolster the economy and make this country grow.

  16. Scott

    Even if one accepts the premise that we need H-1b’s, how do that relate to H-4’s getting employment authorization? If the H-1b’s can’t survive here on what they are being paid, then either their employers will have to pay them more (which defeats the entire reason for hiring them), or they will have to return to their country of citizenship where their spouses can work. The elimination of H-4 work authorization is a logical policy, which BTW, will never happen.

    • Milly

      The underpaid H1bs stay here in misery – they don’t want to return to India after experiencing what the US has to offer. They will have a car, a spouse and child (anchor baby) and an apartment with little in the way of furniture apart from beds and large TV. They use plastic lawn furniture. It is appalling to Americans, but this is what they will do to stay.

  17. It looks like the “outsourced” agencies, the ones that are physically based in India regardless of the phone number, are keeping higher percentages of what the client pays. I saw that years ago. Wages through such agencies became more fair for a while, but the practice of offering lower wages than US-based agencies has resumed. One example: this month, May 2019, an India-based agency offered $50/hour, no benefits. For the same job for the same company/client, a US-based agency offered $58/hr with benefits – the total difference greatly exceeds $8/hr.

    Another observation – although ProUnlimited had been the “gateway” agency for Facebook, I now see several Indian-based agencies are subcontracting to HCL. I don’t know if ProUnlimited is still in the loop, or if HCL is now direct. Every single agency that I have seen that subcontracts to HCL is physically based in India. Many other companies use ProUnlimited as their “gateway” for contractors – I wonder how many companies are now “outsourcing” their recruiters.

    Regarding talent – in the recruiting world – I have experienced very few outsourced Indian-based recruiters who provide both the candidate and the client much service. The average performance i have observed is grab as many resumes as quickly as possible and shove them over to the client. There are a few recruiters that know the job – but too many that I’ve spoken don’t understand what job they’re “working” to fulfill or what the requirements are – they only create haystacks in which client-companies are expected to find the golden needle.

    For whatever reason or lack of it, many US companies are anxious to outsource anything related to money – including the US-based banks.

    And … fewer agencies are accepting corp-corp contracts. I have been told it’s because many overseas agencies have used their corporations to bring in people without the correct visa. I have not confirmed that overseas agencies are doing that – but that is the excuse I have heard, more than once, to reject an incorporated business (I did that for tax reasons – contractors pay for what employees get as benefits) that was created in the US by a US citizen, and is located and operates solely in the US.

  18. J da Boss

    DREAM ON H1B H4EAD HATERS!

    IF YOUR MASTER TRUMP HAD THE BALLS TO END THESE VISAS, HE WOULD HAVE DONE IT BY NOW. TRUTH IS – NO ONE CAN BECAUSE AMERICANS ARE DUMB! LOL
    THREE YEARS – THE ADMINISTRATION CAN’T DO SHIT! YOU BELIEVE THE ADMINISTRATION HAS ANY GUTS TO DO IT NOW!!

    HAHAHA. ROFLMAO

  19. Kavya,

    Just Curious, which skills are you talking about? Fake degrees, fake resumes, No Respect for American culture, Hiring only their community people if the manager is Indian, Let me tell you If Americans are skilled in all these things, what happens to H1 jobs? Skills is the most misused word when it comes to H1 and H4 EAD. If Indians are so skilled why Indian is so bad, why every Indian is trying hard to move to other countries?

  20. Milly

    This is good. There was NO DEMONSTRATED LABOR need for the H4 EAD. The flood of over 90k workers does not help US employment. Reading the comments about the proposed rule under the Obama administration, there were MANY comments written about how great the H4 EAD would be because it would be a 2-for-1 with the H1b visa – this was appalling as an attempt to evade and weaken our immigration rules.
    The abuse of our immigration sytem and the H1b program needs to stop.
    NOW —
    Call your CONGRESSMAN and SENATORS.
    The US House of Representatives has created HR1044 “fairness for high-skilled workers act” – they are trying to REMOVE the per-country caps on green cards.
    After the blatant abuse and lack of good audits we experienced with the H1b, OPT, B1 and L1 visas that came from mainly a couple of countries – China and India – can anyone tell me how removing per-country caps on green cards is going to look?
    Call your congressman and senators and tell them that we want to keep the US population DIVERSE and we should not open the gates to floods from only one or two countries where the immigration lawyers have learned how to game OUR system.
    Keeping per-country caps on green cards IS the FAIR way to go.

  21. Good H4 ead are going ,lets hope they get this rule as early as possible .May american will get their jobs back .H1B already get good pay 100k and with H4 ead their spouses also get 60-80k pay ,they have big houses and good future where as an average american is struggle to get 50-60k jobs .

  22. In the giant companies I’ve contracted at, it looks like 50% of the “employees” are contractors. It’s painful that company staff are considered as “liabilities”, a cost to the company. Contractors, however, are a “resource”, and don’t have the negative effects on accounting. Why does this matter?

    The company looks more profitable when it invests in resources, rather than take on the expense of liabilities. Some companies, such as Cisco, have massive layoffs that are followed by immediate hires — for the resources of contractors. It’s a game they – this includes MANY companies – play to satisfy the stock-market, and increase their value on paper. All the money that goes to agencies – depending on the fee of the agency – I doubt there’s much different in the actual dollar amount that spent.

    The way I feel about all this — outsource, contract, never get a “permanent” job again in the US — and it’s all for the illusion of monetary value to Wall Street. If anyone has a successful argument to consider those that work for the company are a value, and that talent matters, that respect can and should exist in the work place, can you please share that?

    • Manny

      Problem is you can stop this Visa class.. but then companies will ramp up even more outsourcing.. the Government should tax Outsourcing — collect Social Security and Medicare for each hour billed from Outsourcing..Remotely now a day any work can be done.. So in a capitalist world companies will find way to save money… when you buy something dont you use coupons.? Unfortunately this shit will continue

  23. Manny

    Problem is you can stop this Visa class.. but then companies will ramp up even more outsourcing.. the Government should tax Outsourcing — collect Social Security and Medicare for each hour billed from Outsourcing..Remotely now a day any work can be done.. So in a capitalist world companies will find way to save money… when you buy something dont you use coupons.? Unfortunately this shit will continue

  24. Venkat

    The true issue here is that the H4’s (dependent) are taking over the H1 jobs which is not allocated by the DOL. What happens when the H1 (principal) losses a “project” it will be under bench pay but if they don’t get a bench pay the H4 becomes the head of the family which is wrong! USCIS should really look into this cases because this has been abused mostly by Indian spouses.