“Trump Administration Plans to Rescind Work Permits for Spouses of H-1B Workers”


“The spouses of H-1B visa holders with H-4 visas will lose their work authorization under a regulatory change expected to be issued by the Trump administration in early 2018.

“The proposed rule terminating employment authorization for tens of thousands of H-4 workers is scheduled for February, according to the regulatory agenda published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)…

“…The change is likely to be the first to employment immigration made by the Trump administration in the new year, but not the last—DHS has proposed structural reforms to the H-1B and F-1 visa programs as well, in accordance with President Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, issued in April.

“The 2018 DHS regulatory agenda contains many changes that could greatly affect employers' business immigration programs…But the rules must first go through a notice and comment period followed by a formal approval process that will take many months…

“…Employers should keep in mind that it is premature to draw conclusions about the proposed changes without first seeing the text of the rules, which have not been released, or even drafted in some cases…

“…Finally, proposed rules can get caught up in legal challenges, delaying implementation, assuming the rules survive at all.

“That being understood, the DHS has proposed the following regulatory changes to employment visa programs for 2018.

“Terminating H-4 Work Authorization

“President Barack Obama's administration created a work permit for H-4 visa holders in 2015, and about 41,500 recipients…were granted work authorization under the program in fiscal year 2016…

“…Supporters of the…rule say that the current regulation helps attract and retain skilled foreign workers to the United States. They point to the economic pressure that H-1B workers waiting for a green card—which can take over 10 years for an Indian national—will feel to leave the country if their spouses can't legally work.

“…Introducing H-1B Lottery Preregistration

“DHS intends to propose a rule by February 2018 establishing an electronic registration system for H-1B cap-subject lottery petitions. The agency is planning to resurrect a rule first proposed in 2011 meant to more efficiently manage the intake and lottery process for H-1B petitions.

“…The proposal may also include a modified selection process for H-1B workers, as outlined in the Buy American, Hire American executive order, and specifically that ‘H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.’

“Raising H-1B Eligibility Criteria

“By October 2018, DHS plans to issue regulations revising H-1B visa eligibility criteria to raise the standard on what constitutes a specialty occupation, revise the definition of the employer-employee relationship, and add new requirements designed to protect wages for H-1B workers.

“DHS likely intends to revise H-1B regulations in order to reflect the recent rash of requests for evidence…

“…Overhauling Work Options for Foreign Students, More

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is preparing ‘a comprehensive reform’ of practical training programs for foreign students on F and M visas meant to reduce fraud and abuse…

“…[I]n addition to the above, DHS has scheduled a proposed rule for November clarifying the criteria for admission to the United States under the B-1 visa for temporary business travel and the Department of State is working on several rules that would modify the J-1 exchange visitor program, including a final rule scheduled for February expanding the types of jobs prohibited under summer work travel.”

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