The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that it would withhold an announcement to end the H-4 EAD program until June of 2018. The update from DHS came in response to a court of appeals decision made February 21st. The H-4 EAD program will remain in effect until the planned changes are initiated after June of this year.
The H-4 EAD program allows dependents of H-1B highly skilled nonimmigrant workers the opportunity to apply for employment benefits. Primarily, the H-4 EAD program allows spouses to work in the U.S. while their husbands or wives seek employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. The program is beneficial because it allows families to maintain a steady income while in the United States. However, an interest group Save Jobs USA challenged the legality of the H-4 EAD program, enacted originally by the Obama Administration. The group claims that the H-4 EAD program depresses wages and takes jobs from the American workers. Although the claims lack vital evidence, the Trump Administration does not support the Obama era program. Therefore, if the Trump Administration orders DHS to make changes to end the H-4 EAD program, the lawsuit would no longer be necessary.
On February 21st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted a motion from the Trump Administration to delay the case for 90 days on the condition that the Administration, and further the DHS, would release new regulations for the H-4 EAD. The court anticipated that the administration would immediately announce to end the H-4 EAD program. However, on March 1st DHS responded to the court announcing that a decision on the fate of the H-4 EAD would not be made until June.
Fate of H-4 EAD
Currently, Obama era regulations for H-4 EAD benefits remain in effect. Once DHS makes an announcement to terminate the program this summer, it may still be several months until the program ends. We will continue to monitor DHS to stay updated on the fate of the H-4 EAD program.