Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
By Dakshina T The News Minute | February 26, 2015 | 12.46 pm IST It was one of those things you wouldn’t want to believe until it happens. For some who have been waiting for this news, the American government’s change of heart towards visa rules for immigrants has come as a huge relief. The United States government has made a significant announcement giving a green signal for certain H-1B spouses to work in the country. With effect from May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to dependent spouses of H-1B workers who fall under the following category: • Principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or • Have been granted H-1B status under sections of a specific Act that permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status. What this typically means is that people need not wait till they reach the last quarter of their green card process to get the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This saves many of them a good three to five years of time as it takes much longer for citizens of countries like India to get through the process, due to the sheer backlog. I was thrilled to know of the development as I have been in the shoes of an H-4 dependent spouse and know what a huge sigh of relief it is for the scores of spouses who are still undergoing this and waiting for the locked gates to open up.  As far as the dependent spouses are concerned, it is not just about the eligibility to work, but also about getting a legal identity as they will be qualified to get a Social Security Number (SSN) - without which it is hard to even get a credit card in this country. Very interestingly though this is also going to open the flood gate in terms of the number of people in the job market and will make the environment very competitive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimate the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule to be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. So eligible spouses, now you have the opportunity to be a player. Make the best use of it. Brush up your resume, learn a new skill or two with respect to the current trend in your industry and start networking with potential employers.  I would like to believe that we are moving towards a more open world, where people would not have to lay their talent and skills to rest, just because of certain visa regulations. Why can’t we evaluate people based on their qualification or skillset? Does it matter whether they are from another country? America has set the right precedent by taking the first step in relaxing some of the archaic immigration laws and I hope it would be a role model for other countries to do the same in the coming years. For one it would just improve productivity and help the economies flourish. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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