H-1B : A new study warns that the United States may begin to lose smart immigrants to Canada, particularly those married to other skilled professionals. Canada, which allows spouses of all skilled foreign workers to work, has been a popular destination for migrants, particularly those from India.
According to a National Foundation for American Policy report, by extending work authorization to all spouses of H-1B visa holders, the US can entice more skilled migrants, particularly Indians, to pick the US over Canada.
Between 2016 and 2020 and 2021, the number of Indians who became permanent residents in Canada climbed by more than 115%. Former President Barack Obama authorized spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States with the H4 (dependent) visa in 2015.
Dependent spouses and children of H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders are granted H4 visas. Spouses of H-1B visa holders are typically well educated, with many working in STEM disciplines, and have previously had jobs of their own or worked to support their families.
“Allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work upon arrival would assist recruit and retaining skilled workers while also increasing the H-1B visa category’s already significant economic benefits,” Zavodny added.
Based on American Community Survey data, she predicts that about 90% of the spouses of H-1B visa holders have a bachelor’s degree or above, and more than half have a doctoral degree (2017-2019). Two-thirds of this 90% of wives are from India, while 6% are from China.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation announced in 2015 allows H4 visa spouses to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Currently, H4 spouses can apply for an EAD only after their H-1B spouse has been approved for a permanent visa.
That usually does not happen until the H-1B has been in the country for several years; in fact, some spouses may only apply after their H-1B spouse has been in the country for at least six years. The H4 visa holder must be chosen in the H-1B lottery, which occurs only once a year and has a poor success rate.
Long processing times for H4 EADs have troubled US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the spouses who require the permit to work. Spouses of employees on an L-1 intracompany transferee visa, an E-1 treaty trader visa, an E-2 treaty investor visa, or an E-3 specialty occupation worker visa from Australia may work.
Spouses of these visa holders are “considered employment authorized incident to status,” which means that their visa allows them to work without the requirement to apply for an EAD separately. Since mid-2015, over 171,000 H-4 visa holders have been authorized for job authorization, with a sizable proportion coming from India.
Indians received the most H1B visas in fiscal 2021, accounting for more than 74% of allotments. The USCIS accepted 4.07 lakh H-1B visas, of which 3.01 lakh were allocated to Indians and 50,000 to Chinese. According to research, the H-1B visa category boosts economic growth, generates jobs for American workers, and delays the outsourcing of high-paying jobs.
The H-1B visa is a type of visa available in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H), that allows U.S. firms to temporarily hire foreign employees in specialist occupations. A specialty occupation necessitates the use of specialized knowledge as well as a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in work experience. The visa holder may be required to reapply after 3 years, extendable to six years.
Each year, the number of H-1B visas issued is limited by law: In 2019, 188,100 new and initial H-1B visas were issued. Employers must normally deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes from earnings provided to H-1B employees.
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