What Is the H-4 Visa and the H-4 EAD?

FEATURED IMAGE | Source: Teamblind Inc.

What is the H-4 visa?

It’s a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to dependents of H visa holders, including H-1B nonimmigrants. An H-4 allows immediate family members of H visa holders to legally come and stay in the United States. The total number of H-4 visas issued in 2017 was 136,393. The majority of these visas went to Indian citizens (86 percent), followed by Chinese nationals (3 percent).

What is the H-4 EAD?

The H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a work permit issued to H-4 spouses of H-1B recipients. For an H-4 spouse to be eligible for work authorization, the H-1B holder must meet one of the following two requirements:

• Is in the process of obtaining a green card or permanent residency in the United States

• Has the H-1B visa extended under the AC21 Act

The H-4 EAD was first issued in 2015 and 26,858 work permits were approved that year. For fiscal year 2016, the USCIS approved 41,526 work permits for H-4 spouses.

How is the H-4 visa related to tech workers?

Thousands of H-1B recipients are tech employees working in the Silicon Valley. Their immediate family members have been able to reside and work in the United States through the H-4 visa.

How has the controversy around the H-1B visa affected the H-4?

Many people in favor of visa regulations have voiced that the H-1B jeopardizes employment opportunities for American workers. They claim that companies misuse the H-1B visa to hire cheap foreign labor. Disney and Southern California Edison are two high-profile examples.

The furor over the H-1B has spun off another controversy, this time around the H-4. A policy change to ban an H-4 holder’s right to work has entered its final review at the Department of Homeland Security. If approved, the new rule would cause an estimated 100,000 H-1B spouses to lose their jobs.

Tech lobby groups have argued that the ban would remove tens of thousands of taxpayers from the workforce and create hardship for many highly-skilled professionals who are vital to the economy. However, groups working towards reducing immigration say that the planned H-4 work ban will help reform a system that is filled with abuse.

What discussions are taking place on Blind regarding the H-4 visa?

The H-4 is consistently a hot topic on Blind. Discussions about obtaining the visa are common. These days, the possibility of the H-4 EAD being revoked has sparked conversations about the increasing numbers of foreign workers in tech. Many workers who will be directly affected by any policy change have gone to Blind to share their anxieties about their uncertain future. To read what our users are saying about the H-4, visit the content here.


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