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Fate of H4 Visa Holders to Be Decided in 2018

hands-2847508_640-300x200The decisive hearing date for Save Jobs USA v. Department of Homeland Security – the court case that could make or break the status of the H4 visa – is fast approaching, and many immigrants are worried about the outcome.

The H4 visa, also known as a “Dependent Visa,” allows immediate family members, like spouses and children of H-1B visa holders, to accompany them to the United States. H4 visa holders are permitted to pursue studies in the U.S. but once had to apply for a change of status to a nonimmigrant category in order to work in the country.

The Obama administration, however, changed some of the H4 visa’s provisions, allowing certain visa holders to acquire work permits without having to change their immigration status. But rumors of the Trump administration’s desire to completely remove the employment provisions of the H4 visa have made its beneficiaries uneasy over the imminent hearing.

These rumors began in April this year in light of a petition from Save Jobs USA challenging the H4 visa’s employment opportunities. The organization is comprised of IT specialists who claim to have lost their jobs to foreigners with the H-1B visa. The petition was dismissed in a trial court, but the group promptly appealed. Now, the case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Trump administration has postponed hearings for the case for nearly a year; the petition was filed earlier this year but will only finally receive a conclusive response from the Court of Appeals in early 2018.

Despite this, immigrants remain anxious over the outcome of the case. According to Aman Kapoor, co-founder of Immigration Voice, a non-profit organization devoted to immigrant rights, the recent statements by the government put the future of thousands of H4 visa holders in jeopardy. Above all, she is deeply concerned that the Justice Department might decide after 60 days to adopt the position of Save Jobs USA.

Immigration rights advocates expressed similar suspicions, pointing out that while the case is still on hold, the outlook is not at all promising, given how the White House has never been supportive of the H4 rule made by the Obama administration. Pair this with President Trump’s aggressive anti-immigration rhetoric, the odds appear to be against H4 visa holders.

According to USCIS, there are over 680,000 H-1B visa holders as of this year, with more than 120,000 H4 visas issued in 2017. At least 4 million Indians—the largest group of H-1B visa holders—are currently residing in the US – all figures that have grown and will continue to grow by the year. The Court of Appeals’ decision could very well affect the lives of millions.

If you want to learn more about the H4 visa program, or want assistance on applying for a visa with your employer the H-1B program, the Lyttle Law Firm is ready to help. Schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle for a full review of your credentials.