As previously reported, the Trump Administration continues to consider a proposal to terminate the H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) program following a lawsuit from an anti-immigration interest group, SAVE Jobs USA. Early this month, the director of the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), Lee Cissna responded to protests from members of Congress urging the Trump administration to reconsider plans to end the program, citing the immense impact the cessation of benefits would have on families. Director Cissna’s neutral response did not boost confidence in the longevity of the H-4 EAD, but Director Cissna did confirm the opportunity for supporters of the program to participate in a public comment period before any official end.
Impact of Public Comment
The Trump administration, which controls both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS, will hold a period of public comment on the H-4 EAD issue. During the Obama administration in 2015, the responses from a similar period of public comment substantially influenced the ruling that allowed spouses the opportunity to work while their partner is under an H-1B program. The Federal ruling in 2015 included commentary “Supporting the Rule,” “Requesting Expansion of the Rule,” “Opposing the Rule,” and “Requesting a More Restrictive Policy.” Like in 2015, the period of public commentary will include the narratives and pleas of those in favor. Therefore, anti-immigrant and U.S. labor organizations, like SAVE Jobs USA, will have 60 days from the beginning of the public commentary period to submit letters or online commentary through www.regulations.gov/. All argument in favor of and against employment authorization document for H-4 spouses will be considered by the Trump administration.
Hope for H-4 EAD
Although opposition is great against the EAD program, thousands more are in support of the continued implementation of the program. Over 70,000 spouses, predominantly women, have been empowered through maintaining an independent income from their H-1B partner. Additionally, families are able to maintain a sustainable household with a duel income, a feat nearly impossible before 2015. Supporter, beneficiaries, and friends of the H-4 EAD program have an equal opportunity to provide arguments in opposition of the proposal to end the H-4 EAD program. All testimonials, arguments, and pleas will be considered during the period of public comment. If enough support is expressed by the public, the DHS may reconsider terminating the employment program for H-1B spouses. We will update readers once the period of public comment begins.