US Court Rules that H-1B Visa Holders’ Partners can Work in the US
A US district judge has ruled that the partners of H-1B visa holders, many of whom are from India, can work in the United States, bringing relief to foreign workers in the tech sector who have experienced significant layoffs. H-1B visas allow US firms to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise, with technology firms recruiting tens of thousands of employees annually from nations such as India and China.
Save Jobs USA, an organisation representing IT workers who claimed they had lost their jobs to H-1B workers, filed a lawsuit against the Obama-era regulation that enabled certain categories of H-1B visa holders’ partners to obtain employment authorization cards. However, Judge Tanya Chutkan dismissed the lawsuit, citing decades of executive-branch practice and both explicit and implicit congressional ratification of that practice.
The judge added that Congress has expressly empowered the US government to authorise employment as a permissible condition of an H-4 spouse’s stay in the United States, with the federal government holding the responsibility for authorising employment for similar visa classes. The Department of Homeland Security has extended work authorisation to foreign government officials’ partners, employees’ partners or officers of international organisations, and students’ partners and dependents.
Ajay Bhutoria, a prominent community leader and advocate for immigrant rights, welcomed the decision, saying it would provide much-needed relief to families struggling to make ends meet, ensuring that they can stay together and thrive. The Save Jobs USA group plans to appeal the court’s decision.
According to reports, almost 200,000 IT workers have lost their jobs since November last year, including record numbers at firms such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. Between 30% to 40% of those who lost their jobs are Indian IT professionals on H-1B and L1 visas. Those on H-1B visas must find a new job within 60 days, or they may have to return to India.