H-4 EAD Unfairly Strangled by Trump Administration: Lawsuit

H-1B is an emotional issue for many tech professionals, but few aspects of it are quicker to spark argument than the H-4 EAD, a related program that allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States. Critics argue that the H-4 EAD takes jobs away from American workers, while advocates of H-1B suggest it’s unfair to prohibit a spouse from landing a job and thus contributing to the overall economy.

Now, a new lawsuit filed in U.S. district court alleges that U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is trying to unfairly delay the distribution of H-4 and H-4 EAD, effectively strangling the program. 

Before March 2019, USCIS would review H-4 and H-4 EAD petitions along with the “main” H-1B application. The logic for that was pretty sound, as it would mean approvals (or rejections) for a family all at once. But starting March 22, the lawsuit claims, USCIS began processing these H-4 and H-4 EAD applications separately from the H-1Bs, leading to chaos and lengthening approval times.

There’s yet another wrinkle here. As of February 2019, anyone applying for an H-4 extension must “attend a biometrics appointment and be finger printed,” according to the lawsuit, which claims this requirement is “not required by regulation or statute and was a creation of USCIS not supported by any rule of law.”

As the lawsuit goes on to describe: “USCIS noted that since biometrics would take an average of seventeen days, it was possible that the H-4 and H-4 EAD would still be pending after an H-1B was adjudicated in the fifteen days required for premium processing. USCIS stated that they would take steps to adjudicate these H-4 and H-4 EAD applications in an expeditious manner.”

After that point, however, USCIS decided to divide the H-4 and H-4 EAD processing from H-1Bs, resulting in processing times of eight months or more for the H-4 and five months or more for H-4 EAD. 

“The H-1B extensions have been granted, but the H-4s continue to wait, losing out on jobs, health insurance, and drivers licenses because they did not receive their EADs timely,” read a blog posting by Reddy & Neumann, the law firm representing the plaintiffs. “We seek to force USCIS through litigation to adjudicate these renewals in a reasonable time as required by the Administrative Procedures Act. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. stands ready to advocate for fair and timely adjudications for the high-skilled legal immigrant community.”

But all this might prove a moot point, as the H-4 EAD is slated for death. In February, USCIS also issued a proposal to remove “H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization,” labeling it “economically significant.”

At the time, the agency emphasized how this move would play into the Trump Administration’s broader “Buy American and Hire American,” an executive order signed in early 2017: “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.”

That invited some huge blowback from supporters of H-4 EAD and visa programs in general. “Taking away a spouse’s ability to work will make the U.S. a less attractive destination for top-tier talent. The skills gap in the U.S. remains profound, with 60 percent of U.S. employers saying they have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer,” Richard Burke, CEO of Envoy Global, which guides clients through the immigration process, wrote in an email to Dice at the time. 

A final decision on H-4 visas is slated to arrive sometime soon, but it may face challenges in court and Congress. In the meantime, USCIS has taken steps to disrupt H-4 EAD (at least if you believe the lawsuit).Visa approvals have been declining since the beginning of the Trump administration, and it’s an open question whether further policy tweaks will accelerate that dip. 

20 Responses to “H-4 EAD Unfairly Strangled by Trump Administration: Lawsuit”

  1. Mr. Noname

    How about “wages and career prospects of Americans strangled by cheap foreign labor” as a lawsuit?

    Say it with me, people:

    “Round them up.
    Ship them back.
    Anything else is treason.”

  2. We have had enough of the big lie about America needing highly skilled people from India. This have depressed the pay and displaced highly skilled American long enough. US corporation exploited this loop hold. It needs to stop now!

  3. Why don’t big corporations train local American workers who are as bright as foreign workers? Because then the corporations will have to pay American workers higher pay, insurance, and other benefits and it will cut down their profits. That’s why they prefer foreign workers. Prices of homes have gone up in many neighborhoods as the foreign workers and investors have pored their money earned from these American companies making it really hard for an average American family to afford a house in a nice neighborhood. It needs to stop now. Why can’t these American corporations invest in their own American workers by providing them training and resources as they are capable of doing much better job and understanding other aspects much better than foreign workers?

  4. There is no shortage of American STEM talent. My computer science son was told by an all indian interview team leader for an American financial institution 5 miles from his home that we do not hire Americans and most of our employees are in India.

    • Probably that if your son was of Indian origin, he had a job now. In my experience, managers of Indian origin will hire only people of Indian origin, does not matter the visa or the citizenship of the candidate.

  5. How about millions of college graduates (called IT experts) brought from india to US. has anyone thought of its impact on locals ? How about project after project sent by big companies to India and asking US locals to train them online…has anyone thought of its impact on locals in US. This Madness of bringing millions of people to US on H1/H4/L1 with a fake reason of not finding qualified people need to be restricted.

  6. The American companies are refusing to hire American workers with no good reasons and continue to perpetuate the lie that there are no qualified Americans. It is time that this abuse by American corporations ends! I work at a company where almost a 100% of the IT projects are done by Indian outsourced companies. The quality of the work is extremely poor and they systems are constantly down. I have always asked my bosses to let me hire 4 highly qualified Americans for my development team instead of an outsourced team of 10 to 20 since I know these Americans could out produce and provide higher quality results. It is so bad with the American companies that I have advised multiple younger people to not get STEM degrees in the US until the American companies are forced to change. An American with a STEM degree right out of college will not have a good life in America anymore. The time for change is now and the American companies need to be forced to be changed by the creation of new laws that require them to hire Americans.

  7. Gabriel Stuart Lobo-Blanco

    This articles published by DICE are usually propaganda paid by Companies from India. The argument is always the same: “America is lacking necessary talent” but they all speak guile. The U.S has the best schools in the world, and there is no lack of training schools for any of the jobs not being filled. Something companies never tell is that the jobs that stay open are the ones they have for people from India: those with high skills requirements, but with extremely low pay. Of course, because they won’t have their wife’s working, now these people are starting to feel the pinch many American feel because of the low wages.

    If the wifes need to work, then they should apply for the H-1B visa as well. The program was designed for highly skilled people and not for their wifes. If the skills are on demand, then they should be getting premium $$ for that job and not the base salary of $60K per year. That is the way the economy works throughout the world. Why shouldn’t it be the same for STEM?

  8. “while advocates of H-1B suggest it’s unfair to prohibit a spouse from landing a job and thus contributing to the overall economy.”

    Unfair? The issuance of an H1-B visa in no way guarantees that the spouse will also be allowed to work. Furthermore, the H1-B visa is only supposed to be issued for workers who provide exceptional skills. Is the spouse also providing those same exceptional skills? If not, no visa.

    If the person entering on the H1-B cannot provide for their family with their exceptional skills and the employer isn’t compensating them enough for those skills then it isn’t feasible for them to come to the US. Stop bending over backwards for cheap foreign labor.

  9. MrSammy

    These comments are such horse-bleep! I’ve worked in IT recruiting for over 20 years. I have tons of job openings and ZERO qualified candidates! Where are these US IT workers who don’t have jobs? Every qualified candidate gets MULTIPLE offers in today’s market. So sick of these partisan hacks who just make stuff up and go unchecked in these comments. Here’s reality, if we don’t get people to fill these jobs in the US (and pay taxes in the US), these jobs will go off-shore. Companies need to get the work done. The reason IT jobs pay so well is not just that they are in high demand, it’s because the work is HARD! Not everyone can do it. If you want to keep IT jobs in this country we need to seriously invest in STEM education from K-12 and all the way up. Get our kids interested in doing the work and training them how to do it starting at a very young age.

    • I’d be more inclined to believe YOU’RE full of horse-bleep. I’m sure there is a shortage….now. Given the changes in the H-1B program. My wife was on an H-1B, worked on it for 10 years for one of the big four consulting firms. And she has long stated that there’s a great deal of truth in what the other commentators are saying. Indian team leads and recruiters only hiring other Indians (she’s Indian btw), companies outsourcing for cost saving (not because they couldn’t fill the position with Americans). Those same firms are struggling now that their source of cheap labor is being squeezed off. Too bad I say. Maybe if the tech companies hadn’t spent decades out sourcing good jobs to pad their bottom line, there wouldn’t be a shortage now.
      Do we need more emphasis on STEM in K-12? Absolutely. But to sit there and espouse nonsense about how “there are no qualified candidates” is BS.

    • If this is the case – AND the H1b visa holders are truly being paid appropriate to market rates then there should be no financial need for the family to work. This all needs to support US citizens first. No demonstrated labor need for H4 EAD. Plenty of demands for a 2-for-1 H1b visa though – trying to cheat and game the system.

    • John Redfoot

      “Mr. Sammy” is obviously from India or 2nd generation. You can tell by the nomenclature of his supposed name.

      Dump Dice and their American hating agenda.

  10. government knows H1/L1(short cut to green card/citizenship), F1, Family based green cards etc are making jobless Americans. Why to give 1 million green cards every year? To protect safety, security and corrupt free only hire US Born citizens as government officials including schools.

    To protect future US generations at least stop birth right citizenship and halt green cards.
    US is not shortage of skilled workers and US is currently shortage of roads and houses due to excess downloading from other countries.

  11. When Obama set up the H4 EAD he was bowing to pressure from special interests and foreign entities. The H4 EAD did NOT recognize the fact that there is NO DEMONSTRATED LABOR NEED for the H4 to work.
    Our government needs to support the needs of citizens first and should not have allowed the H4 EAD.
    Remember this at the polls.

  12. Its all about the bottom line -PROFIT. My very specialized career was being outsourced to India since 2008. One of the biggest insults was to see the VA and Fannie outsource to India. They award big contracts to companies that outsource to India. One of the bigger companies that outsources most its jobs to India is OCWEN and includes many other recently (10 yrs) acquired mortgage companies: OneWest Bank, the former IndyMac Bancorp, Litton Loan Servicing LP and certain interest-only servicing securities previously owned by Goldman Sachs & Co. from Goldman Sachs, Aurora Bank’s commercial servicing rights portfolio. They have purchased many other company rights for servicing mortgage loans, these are jobs that should stay in the USA, BUT are shipped overseas due to cheaper labor force. This is how they have profited to the point they are able to monopolize the entire real estate market, property values, and work force.

  13. All big corporations now want to pay 40 to 50 per hour, especially in big cities such as NY LA, San Francisco, Chicago etc which have a higher concentration of H1B

    My rate has gone down from over a 100 to 60$ to stay in the market otherwise I have to wait 4 MONTHS to get something at 80ish. My skillset is one of the hottest in the market that H1B are taking.

    Something also needs to be done to stop Indian companies such as Tata, TCL bringing H1B candidates because they just take over all contracts too

    • I feel your pain. I was making $110 per hour before the tech bubble burst back in 2007 (I think). I’ll never see those rates again. I’m lucky to make $60/hr now. Actually, I’m lucky to find any work in my field now. I just took an entry-level full-time job in a digital advertising agency at 70% less than my normal contract rate because I needed to keep a roof over my head, pay my bills, and eat. That’s all it allows me to do.

  14. The H1-B visa is the biggest scam used by US companies. Import young people from Asia that can’t speak English – let alone write it – well enough to make themselves understood and pay them 30% – 50% less than US citizens that are fully capable of doing the same work. In the meantime, these companies want native English-speakers working with these people to not only do their own work, but to quality-check the written work of imported workers and correct it. Yeah, sounds fair to me.

    I have nothing against these people. They’re trying to better their lives. However, they’re bettering their lives at the expense of US citizens that want to better their own lives. I’ve seen Indian nationals that are IT directors and VPs when plenty of US talent exists to fill those roles, let alone rank and file developers, engineers, PMs, BAs and such. Companies just don’t want to pay the wages that United States citizens expect to earn for those skills and roles.

    The argument for the H4-EAD is a non-starter and specious. Why should a U.S. citizen be denied a job because an imported worker wants to bring his/her spouse and have them work? A U.S. citizen working contributes to the economy, too. This whole argument is transparently obvious; it’s been concocted by law firms and Indian body shops that stand to lose a lot of money when imported “talent” decides to go to Canada or elsewhere. Let Canadian workers be displaced by imported labor. The immigration law firms that set themselves up to help import Indians for IT positions stand to lose their licenses to print money. Is it any wonder Indian body shops and immigration lawyers are filing suit? They’re trying to protect their geese that are laying golden eggs.

    Corporate executives get big bonuses for lowering their companies’ biggest expenses, salaries and benefits. They’re the largest percentage of any company’s expenses. Their cronie boards reward them for returning “shareholder value” while displaced US workers struggle to find another job or contract. It’s a great deal for executives. but a lousy one if you’re a rank and file worker. The deck is heavily stacked against employees, and even more so against contractors since we and our contracts are expendable.

    To add insult to injury, it takes many of us months to find our next projects. When I interview, interviewers always ask me why I haven’t worked for months; they have no idea what the marketplace is like. Some employers have no idea what they’re looking for in candidates; some employers have such narrow requirements that they’re guaranteed difficulty in filling a role and complain about self-inflicted hiring issues. Some employers try to combine two or three roles into one and call it a “hybrid” role (A graphic artist, tech writer, PM, and developer all rolled into one… Really??); do they really think we’re so stupid that we don’t know they’re trying to get two or three people for the price of one? Not only all that, but contractors now have to compete against people all over the world, not just others in their own city, state, and country. It’s crazy! It’s no wonder it takes so long for contractors to find another gig.

    If you’re in a particular age bracket, good luck being able to find work in your field ever again and even better luck being able to prove age discrimination. And don’t get me started on “employment at will”. That’s just another method companies use to lighten their employee load so they can get rid of employees and contractors because their incompetents didn’t plan well enough.

    I’ll add one more thing before I close. Companies import Indians into the US to work and it’s well known that Indians do not hold women in high regard. I’ve heard conversations between Indian men and women when talking about work; I’ve heard several men that have been very condescending to women in meetings. Bravo to the women that have put them in their places.

    I have female friends that have told me of their difficulties working with male Indians and how they’ve worked to undermine them. It’s a cultural issue that many workplaces ignore. However, it’s not to the company’s detriment. It’s to the woman’s detriment since it’s her word often against several Indians. She often gets no support.

    Thank you, Republicans. Thank you, Democrats. You’re two sides of the same defective coin doing nothing to support the “everyday” people that voted for you. It’s all about giving favors to those that gave you legal bribes euphemistically called donations – corporations.