Spouses of H1B holders can work

Spouses of H1B visa holders will soon be allowed to work in the United States, as the country gets ready to boost entrepreneurship in an effort to drive the US economy out of a seven-year-long recession.

jobs in US

The White House, in a statement, says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will soon release new US immigration policy aimed at making “the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness. ”

As part of the immigration reforms that began last year with a draft bill, the US will authorize employment for “spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.

The DHS is also launching Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs a way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States.

Currently, the US issues 65,00 H1B visas, many of which are issued to Indian techies. This number is soon likely to triple to 180,000.

Many Indians are likely to benefit from the immigration rules for working and living in the United States.

Indian outsourcing companies have been lobbying to increase the 65,000 limit on U.S. companies to sponsor foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree for a H-1B visa.

When the limit is reached, the American Citizenship and  Immigration Services randomly selects visa applicants.

As many as 30% of these H1B visas are issued to Indian companies based in the United States. Hiring a local subcontractor from the US is reportedly twice as expensive as sending a techie from India.

Before anyone gets excited, read the statement again. The H1B waiver to work for spouses may not apply to all categories. It may be limited to spouses from the science, technology and research sectors.

What is an H-1B visa?

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, US employers  temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. These technical staff are allowed to work in the United states under the H-1B non-immigrant visa in the United States.

When an H-1B visa holder quits the job, they can get their visa status changed to another another non-immigrant status, or find another employer. If either of these options are not available, the H-1B visa holder has to leave the country.

Which family members are allowed under H1B visa?

Spouse and dependent children under 21 years of age are issued H-4 visa. Under an H-4 visa, spouse and children can study in the US, but they are not permitted to work. Also, they are not allocated a social security number. However, H-4 visa holders are allowed to open bank account and obtain a driver’s license.

Alternatively, family members may apply for a non-immigrant visa – for example, the spouse may apply for an H1B visa, and children may apply for F-1 which is students’ visa.

(Photo credit: US Army)



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