On May 16, 2018, one hundred and thirty-two congressional members sent a letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, encouraging the continuance of the current regulation granting work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The letter argues that the opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work “has made our economy stronger, while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses—mostly women—who have resided in the United States for years.” The letter indicates that many are on the path to permanent residence and would already be permanent residents if not for decades-long employment backlogs. “Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families,” the letter states.

The letter notes that providing work authorization for accompanying spouses helps U.S. employers recruit and retain highly qualified employees, “putting U.S. policy on par with other countries—such as Canada and Australia—competing to attract foreign nationals.” The letter notes additional reasons for allowing H-4 spouses to continue to work in the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna responded on May 24, 2018, on Secretary Nielsen’s behalf. He stated that the Department of Homeland Security is committed to growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. workers, and that the public will be given the opportunity to provide feedback during a notice-and-comment period “on any revisions to regulations that DHS determines appropriate, including revisions relating to the rule providing employment authorization to certain H-4 nonimmigrants.”

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