California Representative Attempts to Save H-4 EAD Program (H-1B)

As previously reported, the work authorization (H-4 EAD) program that allows the spouses of H-1B visa beneficiaries to find work while in the United States with their family is set to end under the Trump Administration. However, two California Congresswomen are gearing up to fight for the continuation of the Obama-era H-4 EAD program.

H-4 Employment Protection Act

On November 16th, Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) introduced the H-4 Employment Protection Act, which would prohibit the Trump Administration from ending the Obama rule that expands work authorization to include the spouses of H-1B visa holders. Congresswomen Eshoo and Lofgren represent the majority of San Jose, which is more commonly known as Silicon Valley.

One of the largest recruiting areas for highly skilled foreign workers, Silicon Valley hosts many families on the H-1B program. Since spouses are permitted to work through the H-4 visa program, many residents of Silicon Valley were able to pursue their own careers alongside their husbands and wives. In total, the H-4 EAD program has allowed over 100,000 H-1B spouses, primarily women, to obtain employment authorization documents. The Trump Administration is likely set to end the program before January next year.

“Protecting work authorization for these H-4 visa holders is a matter of both economic fairness and family unity,” Congresswomen Eshoo stated in a press release. “Eliminating this benefit would create a painful choice for many immigrants to either split up their families or return to their home countries and use their talents to compete against American businesses.” Residing in California can be especially challenging for families living off of the income of a single H-1B holding earner. Eshoo and Lofgren’s bill aims to protect those families that are vulnerable to the cut in income associated with the termination of the H-4 program.

Congresswomen Lofgren echoes this concern: “Prohibiting H-1B dependent spouses from working is of no benefit to our country, and if allowed to move forward, many of these families that can contribute so much to our workforce will simply move to countries with a more sensible approach to immigration. This much needed bill will block the Trump Administration from needlessly harming our economy and the lives of skilled immigrant families.”