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Advocates call for an end to H-4 visa work restrictions

Georgia residents may be aware of the H-1B visa program that allows American companies to hire individuals from overseas when workers with the required skills cannot be found in the United States. However, they may not be aware of the controversy surrounding the immigration status of the spouses of those granted an H-1B visa.

These people are issued with an H-4 visa, which does not allow them to obtain a social security number or work legally in the United States. Immigration authorities issued 96,753 H-4 visas in 2013, and more than three quarters of them were granted to Asian women. A large number of these women are from India, and they are often well educated and anxious to work.

While some may feel that allowing H-4 visa holders to work would take jobs from Americans, advocates for immigration reform say that keeping these people out of the workforce could actually do more harm than good to the economy. They warn that the restrictions on work could lead to qualified engineers and scientists seeking visas to work in countries without these rules, such as Canada, rather than applying for an H-1B visa in the Unites States. They also point out that many H-4 visa holders would like to start businesses that would create more jobs for Americans.

Those hoping to live and work legally in the United States sometimes find the complex system of visas and programs to be both bewildering and frustrating, and even those who attempt to follow the rules meticulously may find their application denied due to a seemingly minor misstep. An immigration attorney will likely be aware of these difficulties, and they may be able to analyze the merits of an application and provide guidance regarding how best to pursue legal residence in the United States.

Source: CNN , "I'm a legal immigrant, but not allowed to work", Sara Ashley O'Brien, September 15, 2014

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