The US government's proposed plan to repeal the Obama-era rule that allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US will make it difficult for American companies to retain high-skilled workers, said Nasscom. The lobby group of the Indian IT industry also said that the spouses themselves are highly skilled professionals.
In a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna said that a formal communication is expected to be made later this summer regarding the plan.
"Our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility," Cissna said.
He said such action would comport with the executive order requirement to "propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system ... "
As with other revisions to regulations, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a notice and comment period, Cissna said.
"Studies have proven that H-1B workers create more jobs in the US," said Shivendra Singh, vice-president, global trade development at Nasscom. He added that companies may find it difficult to retain such high skilled talent if the proposal goes through. "On a humanitarian level, this will mean separation of families for many years," he added. Singh said that USCIS is still to formally submit a proposal to this effect.
The move — even though it will impact only a small percentage of H-1B visa holders who were on the run for a Green Card — is being deemed by the Indian industry as restrictive. In December last year, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it intends to do away with that rule and said that the move is in accordance with the Donald Trump administration’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy stance.