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End of road for H4 visas

End of road for H4 visas
Highlights

The Trump administration is planning to end allowing spouses of H1-B visa holders to work legally in the US, a top federal agency official has told lawmakers, a move that could have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Indians. It is sure to ensure gloom for thousands of Indians, more so to the Telugus, sustaining themselves on H-4 visas and living their American dreams. 

The Trump administration is planning to end allowing spouses of H1-B visa holders to work legally in the US, a top federal agency official has told lawmakers, a move that could have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Indians. It is sure to ensure gloom for thousands of Indians, more so to the Telugus, sustaining themselves on H-4 visas and living their American dreams.

This 2015 rule allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while their counterparts employed on H-1B wait for their permanent resident status. The move is said to impact more than 1,00,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan research outfit, Indian H-1Bs can expect to stand in the green card queue for several decades, because in 1990, Congress imposed an annual limit on employment-based green cards that was far too low for America’s growing economy.

This was on top of the overall green card cap and country-specific quotas. With the IT revolution taking off and Silicon Valley aggressively recruiting Indians on H-1Bs, the timing of this third blow couldn’t have been more inopportune then. The latest move, much worse, couldmean that while the H-1B visa holders might end up retiring before acquiring their green cards, their spouses may have to shun any hope of ever working in America legally unless they acquire their own H-1Bs.

It has been seen in the recent times this probability is also sinking. The H-1B is also in short supply. Reports in the American media suggest that these visas are running out within the first week after the government starts accepting applications. Reports also advise against having hopes of finding an employer in the same town as the spouse who is willing to hire and sponsor one, despite the cost and the uncertainty involved.

After it became clear that comprehensive immigration reform wasn’t going anywhere, President Barack Obama issued a regulation giving 1,00,000 H-4 spouses work authorisation.

But, the Trump administration has now zeroed on its "Buy American, Hire American" agenda and has decided to scrap the same. This could lead to halting the renewal of the existing ones too pushing all the 'involuntary housewife visa’ holders into a quandary and to their 'gilded cage' lives.

But why blame Trump alone? It is not just the US that is taking a U-turn from globalisation policies. The past few years have shattered globalisation dreams world over as populist and nationalist politicians turn to protectionism to save their skins.

Across Europe, anti-establishment political parties made gains not seen in decades. The UK voted to leave the EU. In the present day world of 'us' vs 'them,' the next wave of global populism is expected to hit emerging nations before they have fully emerged.

As in Europe and America, citizens want security and prosperity everywhere and the governments would be forced to build walls, both digital and physical. China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt...the pattern is the same. This is the new Manu Smiriti, of course. Well, there's no place quite like home. Don't you agree?

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