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Repeal of rule may make it harder for spouses to work in the U.S.

Immigration Services

Many industries in the United States are dependent on having highly-skilled workers and, to that end, starting in 2015 the spouses of immigrants who had a H-1B visa in the process of obtaining a Green Card were permitted to be employed in the United States via an H-4 dependent visa. This was especially useful in the technology industry, in which many H-1B immigrants worked.

However, people in Kentucky may be disappointed to hear that the Department of Homeland Security has announced it will be axing that rule. While the Department did not offer an explanation as to its decision to rescind that rule, it did state that it was acting via an executive order by President Trump encouraging employers to hire workers from the United States.

The changes to the rule will not keep spouses of immigrants who have a H-1B visa from trying to pursue other ways to lawfully obtain employment in the United States. However, it is anticipated that some highly-skilled immigrants will be deterred from remaining in the country, as it would be more difficult for their spouses to obtain employment.

The Department of Homeland Security also announced that it planned to make further revisions to the H-1B visa program. Some of these changes could include redefining what jobs would be eligible for an H-1B visa, essentially raising the bar of who will qualify. The Department stated such changes would be made to provide more focus on allowing the "best and brightest" immigrants to work in the United States.

President Trump's executive order was particularly troubling to those from India, who accounted for 70 percent of all those who hold an H-1B visa. Currently these visas are good for three years, and once that time period is up, a holder of such a visa can renew it for three more years. However, back in October the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gave instructions to its officers to scrutinize H-1B renewal requests as stringently as they would for those applying for a visa for the first time.

These actions by our government may be discouraging to those who want to become U.S. citizens and work in the United States along with their spouses. However, there may be other ways a spouse can obtain a work visa. Family immigration attorneys may be able to assist people in such endeavors.

Source: CNN, "Trump to propose ending rule allowing spouses of H-1B holders to work in U.S.," Jethro Mullen, Dec. 15, 2017

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