In a move that brought cheer to Indian techies, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that spouses of H-1B and a handful of other visa holders will be eligible to work from May 26. "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependant spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status," the announcement said.
The H-4 visa is given to spouses of those on an H-1B, as well as a handful of other, less common, visas. At present, H-4 visa holders can't earn an income or possess a social security number. Indians receive the majority of H-1B visas, with most working in science, tech and engineering. According to the State Department 96,753 people received an H-4 in 2013, 76 percent of whom were from South Asia.
The new rule requires H-4 holders whose spouses have applied for green cards to file an application for employment authorization from May 26. The USCIS estimates as many as 179,600 people might apply this year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. "Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense," USCIS Director LeAn Rodriguez said.