US issues work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders, 90 percent of whom are Indians

The United States of America on March 29, 2018 issued employment authorisation documents or work permits to spouses of more than 71,000 H-1B visa holders, among whom 90 per cent were reported to be Indians.

The process of authorising work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders was initiated by the previous US administration led by Barack Obama in 2015.


The spouses or dependents of H-1B visa holders gain entry into the United States on H-4 visas.

They were not authorised to work in the country prior to 2015.


Key Highlights

• According to a report by Migration Policy Institute, as of June 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had granted 71,287 initial (versus renewal) employment authorisation documents to the H-4 spouses.

• Among the H-4 spouses who received the work authorisation as early of 2017, 94 per cent were women and a vast majority of them, 93 per cent, were from India, while four per cent were from China.

• The Migration Policy Institute obtained the information from US Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Freedom of Information Act, which is similar to India's Right to Information Act.

Though the Trump administration has issued the work permits, it has hinted towards ending the programme this year. The administration is likely to propose a legislation in this regard by June 2018.


In 2015, the Obama administration had put into place a programme to grant work authorisation to H-4 visa holders whose spouses had been on an H-1B visa for more than six years and were in the process of applying for a green card.

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