New Legislation Could Change H-1B, Spare H-4 EAD

In one of his first actions as President, Joe Biden is pushing for legislation that will give work authorization to the dependents of H-1B visa workers, among other provisions. 

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 aims to reform the entire immigration system, including an “earned roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals.” It’s the part about work-based visas, however, that could have the biggest direct impact on the tech industry. According to the fact sheet for the legislation:

“This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from ‘aging out’ of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.”

There’s quite a bit to unpack there, but it’s worth noting that the legislation (if passed) could settle the long-running fight over the H-4 EAD, which, as noted earlier, allows spouses (but not other dependents) of H-1B workers to find jobs of their own. The Trump administration spent years trying to kill the H-4 EAD, leading to some brutal court fights

The other interesting part is the White House’s claim that the legislation will incentivize higher wages for “non-immigrant, high-skilled visas” in a way that prevents “unfair competition” with U.S. citizens. For years, critics of the H-1B visa have claimed that the system allows companies to hire immigrant workers for much cheaper than their U.S. counterparts. Echoing those criticisms, the Trump administration initiated policies that led to a spike in the denial rate for H-1B visas, followed by a DOL “Final Rule” that set mandatory wages for H-1B workers at a much higher level.

The goal of the Final Rule, the press release added, is to “improve the accuracy of prevailing wages paid to foreign workers by bringing them in line with the wages paid to similarly employed U.S. workers.” That sort of increase could have a particularly huge impact on business-services and consulting firms that apply for lots of H-1B workers, who are then subcontracted to other companies (including some of tech’s largest giants). Bigger tech companies would also need to reconsider spending lots of resources on H-1B talent. 

Is there a scenario where the Biden administration maintains some semblance of the higher wages outlined in the Final Rule, while also reinstituting some immigration programs (such as H-4 EAD) deleted by the Trump administration? Like other bills, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 has a long way to go before it can become a law, but the initial read-out hints that the Biden administration is trying to appeal to work immigration critics and advocates alike.

25 Responses to “New Legislation Could Change H-1B, Spare H-4 EAD”

  1. US leaders win elections with Citizen votes and keep promises to other countries with any benefits they want whether it is work visa, lottery system (which could be a high profile back end business with millions of cash transactions between visa aspirants and employers; there is no work proof evidence where the beneficiary will work), dependent work visa, easy student visa (you can work to build certain backward races and make them educated rather making them live on state and financial aid and vote for you) to fill enrollments as requested by Universities, allow illegals and criminals and millions of refugees. Not sure if election funding from corporate companies making them to take decisions against US Citizens.

  2. ” Not sure if election funding from corporate companies making them to take decisions against US Citizens.” Are you kidding? Of course the money paid, ummm, ‘donated’ to their re-election campaigns caused this. Call your senators. Call your representatives. Email the white house.

  3. This area is the only area where I had some agreement with Trump. With so many Americans out of work, fixing immigration and H1B should be at the bottom of the list. If they really want to help Americans, companies should have to provide beyond a shadow of a doubt that no American was qualified to take a job that was given to an H1B holder. I’m not sure that raising salaries for H1B holders will have the desired effect of increasing salaries for all tech workers.

    • Why should anybody think: “fixing immigration and H1B should be at the bottom of the list.”. If you think there is high unemployment for Americans, fixing the H1B system should be a priority in order to prevent the system from taking up American Jobs. The system is of course not free and fair, it is heavily favored by employers and they push hard to get more and more benefit out of H1Bs which needs to be controlled. An immigration overhaul is long due and the President needs to Act now.

  4. Dems need to care about us citizens first
    H1 b should be tied to the national unemployment rate
    There should be no h1 or h4 issued if unemployment is higher than 3 %

    Technology needs to serve as a tool for non technical people to move out and move up from other lower paying professions such as admin store workers

    One reason we lose to other newcomers is professional training

    It should be made a law that companies need to provide atleast 2 weeks of training to the workforce per year to keep up and grow the current workforce

    We have lost to so many fake resumes with no real experience

    If Dems don’t do these things Trump will be back

    • Haha, yeah right, 80 million people voted for Dementia Joe. When are people going to wake up and realize the Democrats are now the party of big business? You may have hated Trump, but at least he put the average working man ahead of corporate and political greed.

      • “You may have hated Trump, but at least he put the average working man ahead of corporate and political greed.” – You are right but his way is not the way to put the average working man ahead of corporate greed. Corporate greed is a very large beast and it needs comprehensive legislation to control it, not some quick executive actions which are done by the former President. Corporate greed in this country has gone past any reasonable extent. The corporates exploit American workers and immigrant workers equally and reap immense benefits, paying elected representatives. Complete immigration overhaul is the need of the hour which is beyond the scope of The President’s Executive Orders, and hope President Biden will push Congress hard enough to Act in order to put forward legislation to put workers first and Corporates last.

      • BloJob Xiden

        If you believe ~80MM people voted for me, BloJob Xiden, that sucking sound you hear is your a/s/s vacuuming up your head. Even I, BloJob Xiden, don’t believe that. What I DO believe is that I got away with murder and the largest theft in the history of Amerikkka-stan … I stole The Presidential Seat via a stolen Election and, even though EVERYONE knows it was the most corrupt Election ever, here I sit signing EOs like the puppet regime despot-wannabe I am in the banana republic formerly known as Amerikka-stan.

        ~80MM votes. HA! Blaugh! Only in my dementia dreams did I EVER receive anywheres NEAR that. Even my puppet masters and THEIR puppet master, satan, don’t believe that.

        What a joke and treasonous frauds Amerikkka-stan, Kolakowski, IT, STEM, DICE, and any semblance of TRUTH are now.

    • I have remonstrated Kolakowski consistently, and many times, to finally, and once and for all, to state HIS position(s) RE H1B. HIs bulls/h/i/t bias sympathy and empathy FOR the job-stealing H1B hadjis/bandits is/are manifest, prolific, and palpable. It is obvious. And, thus, the bias of his pennings is also indubious.

      That being written, once again, I am remonstrating Kolakowski to state his personal position RE H1B, on the record, once and for all.

  5. Tim Rock

    This is absolutely unacceptable to allow EAD for the dependents of H1-B. EAD for the spouses (H4) of H1-B visa holders was granted by President Obama through an executive order. This order taken away additional 600000 jobs from the US citizens. If Biden administration allows dependents (spouses, sons, daughters, parents of H1-B) there will be no job left for the Americans. It will be a devastating blow to the Americans. Specifically our college graduates will be without job. We must stand up against this move.

  6. Eric Gates

    I’ve helped quite a few employees with their visas and green cards over the years and have no regrets about doing that. However, I have also seen how this unfairly treats American Citizens. As we all know, a team spread across the country with a variety of skillsets and experiences can make quite a wide salary range. My old company was not great about providing raises – we could go years without a raise. During one such time where no one was getting raises, the DOL forced raises to made to visa workers but there was no such care about the American citizens. Also, we have quite a few people in this country who are struggling and I don’t believe for a minute that we could not invest in our people, provide them with training and college without crushing debt and put them into the tech jobs that we are filling with visa workers. We’ve bought too much into 2 schools of thought – 1) people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and 2) people are lazy. And all the while, countries that have invested in their people, are surpassing us.

  7. Hmmm, so American taxpayers are routinely forced to send millions to foreign countries for oh-so-very-important things like “gender studies in Pakistan.” Nex, in order to promote “diversity” our American colleges and universities, who often enjoy “research funding” and scholarships at US taxpayer expense, entice foreigners to attend (thereby displacing American students from opportunities.) Then those foreigners obtain degrees from the USA schools and compete with those American students seeking good jobs, or even those already employed. Dementia Joe, the pretend president in China’s pocket, and Democrats soon give voting rights to those foreigners … so the vicious circle escalates. Worst of all, those “oh so very poor” countries do not get their freshly educated, smart, motivated. employable workers back into the countries who sent them, so those countries are left with only their uneducated, unemployable, dependent class. The Middle Class of all countries lose out, especially the fleeced US taxpayers. Thanks for nothing Dementia Joe and demented Democrats!

  8. This infuriates me, and I voted for Biden and Harris. I despised the lying, pompous, divisive Twitter in Chief Trump, and will accept some terrible decisions compared to the prior administration’s disregard for things that are important. However, as some of you already wrote, I know firsthand how spouses of H1-B Visas have gotten jobs in with same place as husband, or some nearby business, and work for peanuts compared to me. How am I supposed to pay a mortgage, save 15% a year or more for retirement as required for those of us without pension, and pay several hundred dollars a month for a family for healthcare and dependent care, not to mention save for children’s education, when young folks from poor countries come here and will work for 30% less because compared to where they come from, this is Heaven. I was hoping the new US Labor Secretary nominee, former mayor of Boston, would persuade the Homeland Secretary, ICE and the President, that jobs for US citizens must come first. There is hardly any job in America that cannot be filled by a US citizen, given the millions displaced by poor government decisions and actions across the entire last year, from federal, state and local. I will be writing the White House, Labor Dept., ICE and my Congressman who’s a Democrat and might have more sway than my Republican Senators who can only attack and create animosity with the President, and thus, lack any material influence on matters of importance, no matter how much they like to think differently. You win with honey, not vinegar.

    • Idiot…you let your irrational hatred of “bad orange man” lead you to vote for the man who was obviously going to open the flood gates of immigration and destroy yours and mine livelihoods. Why are you surprised? The red pill is having no effect? We are f..ed . Thanks d…head.

  9. I’ve been an IT professional for the last 30 years and recently lost my job due to COVID. The 3 interviews I’ve had for a new position have all been filled by H1B recipients. I’m a bit disappointed considering I gave my country perhaps the ten most productive work years of my life as an active duty member of the USAF. Come on Washington let’s take care of our own first!

  10. DataDummy

    The rate of denial is meaningless, if not misleading, without also providing the gross application numbers. For example, XYZ files 2x as many applications but their denial rate only increases by 10%.

  11. jake_leone

    Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft they know they can lie to the public when they say there is a STEM/IT shortage.

    But we know, and have evidence, that exactly the opposite is the case.

    The DOJ indictment of Facebook contains information that obtained under the threat of felony obstruction, should any false information be reported to Federal agents.

    Those Federal agents were told that Facebook receives hundreds of resumes for every STEM/IT job that Facebook advertises on its own website. Out of those hundreds of resumes, Facebook finds that 30+ are qualified for the position. Facebook can only hire one person. Facebook is capable of finding 30x more local STEM/IT workers than it actually needs.

    We know this because of a Federal investigation into the PERM process at several companies. Smaller companies than Facebook, routinely settle this fraud for about 100k per violation. Facebook did a fraudulent PERM process 2600+ times over just a 1.5 years covered by the investigation.

    The actual charge against Facebook is that Facebook did a fake PERM process, failed to advertise PERM jobs on its own website, and failed to forward the resumes of the better qualified (30 or more Americans that it find in its openly advertised positions) to the hiring managers involved in the PERM process.

    Thereby, protecting foreign workers from having to face local competition for their job. And the motive for this crime was that foriegn workers waiting for Green Card, do not leave the company that put them into the waiting queue for the Green Card (lest they go to the back of the Green Card line). And that wait time has stretched into decades for certain nationalities (and hence even those nationalities are favored over other better qualified foreign workers of other nationalities).

    We know that Facebook protected foreign workers from have to actually compete for their jobs at Facebook here in the U.S. Because Facebook’s HR personnel have said that the local candidates were applying for much more difficult positions than those held by the foreign workers.

    This case is the Rosetta Stone for decoding the lies of Big Tech.

    Politicians see H-1b and the Green Card problem as a way to get big campaign contributions from Big Tech. Joe Biden received a 100 million dollar donation from Big Tech. And Joe Biden is perfectly willing to milk this for all of its worth. He’s old, he is one-termer at best. So Frankly I think he is perfectly okay to sell the entire U.S. economy to the highest campaign contributors.

    Maybe the American workforce needs a go fund me page, in order to actually get Joe Biden’s attention. Career politicians like Biden are highly skilled at, staying in power by selling their access, yeah or nay, their soul.

    Joe Biden is fighting for the soul of the Nation, so he can sell it. And his record clearly indicates this. He doesn’t care at all about American workers.

    I hope you are all prepared for at least 4 more years of slow to nil recovery.