International IT labor suppliers and their clients are reeling from recent announcements from Francis Cissna, Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), signaling the end of the H4 workers’ employment authorization in the current administration. This news is released in conjunction with pending changes to the H1B lottery systems and alterations to the “definition of specialty occupation” that is set for a reboot. From FirstPost.com
H1B visas allow US businesses to employ “high skilled” foreign workers but concerns have grown over the years about the interpretation of these multi-step definitions…In the letter, Cissna also reveals that targeted site visits will begin at L1 worker sites too. Until now, the USCIS has been focusing heavily on what it calls “fraud and abuse” in the H1B program…H4 visa holders were not allowed to work for pay in America until the Obama government changed the rule in 2015…the Trump administration indicated late last year that it intends to revoke the work permit for H4 spouses setting off alarm bells across the community in America and family members in their home countries…Cissna states that the Department of Homeland Security will soon propose new rules to ensure that employers pay “appropriate wages to H1B visa holders.”…Spouses of H1B workers on H4 visas are coming to grips with the news. “We’re shaken”, says one of them in New Jersey who just landed a job a week ago after many months on the hunt. Her H4 EAD is stamped until 2020. It’s unclear whether any potential rule change will have a retrospective effect…Those stuck on the H4 EAD roller coaster are in for a serious round of stocktaking. “We’ll have to decide whether we are okay with staying on the US despite being unable to work…can we deal with that for a prolonged period or do we want to pack our bags. The time has come. We’ve had enough of this drama”, says Ritu Talwar from Austin, Texas.
Fraught with challenges and shortcomings, the H1B system was long overdue for an overhaul. Now that changes are coming, it will be an important test for the current administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the USCIS, American IT companies and overseas IT staff providers to find a way forward.