Washington: The US on Tuesday announced that it will provide work permits to spouses of H-1B visa holders beginning May 26, a move that is expected to benefit thousands of talented and professional Indian spouses who come to America but are unable to work.
Under existing laws, spouses of H-1B visa holders, many of whom are Indians, are not eligible to work.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for work visas from H-1B spouses on May 26.
Once USCIS approves the 'Form I-765' and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an Employment Authorisation Card,, he or she may begin working in the United States.
USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorisation under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. The move has been welcomed by Indian- Americans.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) in a statement applauded the US government for announcing that it will extend work authorisation, effective May 26, 2015, to some H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
The USCIS, in a statement, said the Department of Homeland Security is extending the eligibility for employment authorisation (EAD) to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment based Permanent Residency.
Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants (principal H1B worker) who are the beneficiaries of an approved 'Form I-140', Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or satisfy at least one or more of the three conditions.
The conditions include that the principal H1B worker has an approved 'I-140' or is currently on an extended H1B status beyond the 6-year limitation based upon an I-140 petition application pending for at least 365 days (one calendar year)
"This decision is going to directly affect many of our life members as they would now be able to join the professional workforce and chase the 'American Dream'," the Telugu Association of North America said in a statement.
Recent State Department figures show that approximately 76 per cent of those who received H-4 status in 2013 were from South Asian countries.