US judge says spouses of H-1B Visa holders in tech sector can work in America
A judge in the US has ruled that spouses of highly-skilled H-1B visa holders in the tech sector can now work in the US. The ruling upholds an Obama-era rule under which partners of such workers were issued H-4 visas. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday dismissed arguments by Save Jobs USA's claim that Congress never granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to allow foreign nationals, like H-4 visa-holders, to work during their stay in the US.
H4 visas are issued to dependent spouses and children who accompany H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the US.
"That contention runs headlong into the text of the (Immigration and Nationality Act), decades of executive-branch practice, and both explicit and implicit congressional ratification of that practice," Chutkan wrote in her ruling.
Save Jobs USA comprises IT workers who claim they lost their jobs to H-1B workers.
The judge added that the DHS has authorised employment for students, as well as for their spouses and dependents. Big tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft had also opposed the lawsuit.
"The fact that the federal government has had longstanding and open responsibility for authorising employment for similar visa classes further manifests Congress' approval of it exercising that authority," she said.
In 2021, Google filed a legal brief with over 40 companies to protect the work authorisation programme which allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US.
In most cases, spouses of H-1B visa holders are highly educated and have worked previously. Some of them even work in STEM fields.
Former US president Donald Trump had proposed to end work authorisation (H-4 EAD) for certain spouses of those who came to the US on H-1B visas.
According to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis, 90 per cent of the spouses of H-1B visa holders are female, two-thirds are from India and 6 per cent are from China.
"The US can reap significant economic benefits, ease labour shortages, and attract more workers in the global competition for talent if it expanded current rules on work eligibility for the spouses of H-1B visa holders," the 2022 study by NFAP said.
Save Jobs USA said it plans to appeal against the court ruling.