What are H-1B and H-4 visas?

Days after his inauguration U.S. President Joe Biden withdrew a Trump-era rule rescinding employment authorisation for H4 visa holders, who are spouses of those having H-1B work visas. But what are these visas? Let’s see

What is H-1B?

H-18 is a nonimmigrant work visa (an official permit). Non-immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals wanting to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis either for study, medical treatment, temporary work, or other similar reasons. The H-1B visa allows American companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or practical expertise. Tech companies in the U.S. depend on this visa to hire thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China. Most of the H-18 visa holders in the U.S. are Indian IT professionals. To qualify for the visa category, the prospective H-18 employee is expected to hold a U.S. equivalent four year Bachelors or higher degree.

Stay in the U.S

An H-1B visa holder can stay in the U.S. for three years, which can be extended to six years, after which he/she may need to reapply. Laws limit the number of H-18B visas issued each year. The H-1B visa applicant is sponsored by the hiring company. Suppose an H-1B worker quits his job or is laid off, he can try to find a new job within 60 days or apply for a change of visa status or go back to his home country.

H-4 visa

An H-4 visa is issued by the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to the spouse and children (aged under 21) of H-1B visa holders. H4 visa holders can go to school, open a bank account, obtain a drivers license and even a social security number. The spouses of H-1B holders can also work, if they are issued an Employment Authorisation Document (EAD).

The background

Back in 2015, the Barack Obama presidency introduced an EAD rule, allowing qualified H4 spouses of H-18 visa holders to work in the US and contribute to the American economy. But the Republican Trump administration in 2017 announced that it would cancel H4 work permits as part of its anti immigration policy. It had proposed “Removing H4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorisation”. However, the process could not completed. During the 2020 presidential election campaign. Biden had promised to revoke the Trump administration’s proposal With Biden withdrawing the proposal to end work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders, over one lakh Indian nationals who had moved to the U.S. along with their spouses for work are expected to benefit.


Picture Credit : Google