Tech Heavyweights Urge Trump to Keep H-4 EAD Rule in Place

As has been widely reported, the Trump Administration is planning to rescind an Obama era policy granting work permits to certain spouses of H1B workers. When it was implemented in 2015, the rule change was heralded as a landmark in U.S. immigration policy because, for the first time, it allowed nearly 42,000 H-4 spouses to earn an income and contribute to the economy. But now, businesses are preparing to deal with the fallout of the proposed rule change.

Earlier this month, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which represents some of the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond, including Apple, Google, and Amazon, sent a joint letter with ten other business and tech advocacy groups to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), outlining the potentially dire effects of eliminating the H-4 EAD rule. One of the major concerns voiced in the letter is that revoking this rule could prompt their H1B workers, who fill integral science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) centered jobs, to seek out job opportunities in other countries that are more welcoming to them and their respective spouses. As the letter to the USCIS notes, “in 2016, there were approximately 3.3 million STEM job openings posted online. By contrast, in that same year, U.S. universities graduated 568,000 students with STEM degrees … the H-4 rule is instrumental in allowing U.S. employers to fill these critical positions with qualified professionals … the H-4 rule represents a valuable but targeted opportunity for us to not just attract and retain talent, but to promote immigration to the United States on the basis of one’s skills and merits. This rule also places the United States on par with foreign competitors, such as Canada and Australia, that allow accompanying spouses to work.” [See Tech Industry Urges U.S. to Keep Work Permits for H1B Spouses, by Yueqi Yang, Bloomberg, 18.Jan.2018).]

It is important to note that the process of eliminating the H-4 EAD rule is a protracted one, and that, if and when the proposed rule to end the program is published, the public will be given an opportunity to voice their thoughts on the matter. But the mere proposition of revoking H-4 work visas is an ominous sign that the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration sentiments continue to be transformed into noxious policy initiates. And despite Trump’s proclamations of an “America First” agenda, there’s nothing pro-American about letting our multi-billion-dollar tech industry stagnate while STEM jobs remain vacant and denying thousands of hard-working H-4 spouses the opportunity to contribute to their families, and our economy.

 

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