A three-judge bench of the US Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sent the case back to a lower court to assess and determine the merits of the case.

Temporary relief for H4 visa holders US court refuses to strike down work permit
news Visa Sunday, November 10, 2019 - 13:02

In what could be a temporary relief to scores of Indians in America, a US court refused to strike down a rule from the Obama presidency which permits the spouse of an H-1B visa holder to work.

A three-judge bench of the US Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday sent the case back to a lower court, giving the district court an opportunity to assess and determine the merits of the case in the first instance.

"Accordingly, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion," a report in the Economic Times quotes the court order as stating.

The H-1B visa allows for US companies to hire foreign workers in certain occupations. The spouse of an H-1B holder receives an H4 visa.

During his term, then US president Barack Obama introduced a new rule which allowed for those with an H4 visa and waiting for their green card, to be able to legally work. It was objected to by Save Jobs USA, which filed a case in 2015. Their claim was that offering H-4 visa holders an Employment Authorisation Document (AED) would increase competition for American techies, since H-1B visa holders would be incentivised to work longer now that their spouses could find employment in the country as well.

However, it was in late 2017, after Donald Trump became president, that talks began regarding striking down the rule.

US president Donald Trump had threatened on multiple occasions to revoke the provision of the H4 visa. Earlier the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the US government said that it would incorporate a work ban on spouses of individuals with the H1B visa. However, making H4 visa holders legally allowed to work, encouraged H-1B holders to stay on the legal path to obtain permanent residency in the country, several people pointed out.

Since 2015, Indians, mostly women, have been the beneficiaries of the H4 visa program, accounting for over 93% of the one lakh visas issued. As per reports, Indians are among the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B visa with 76% of the total visas issued going to professionals from India last year.