Amid the US plan to scrap a rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the country, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said the government would make all efforts to persuade the Trump administration against such a move.
The Trump administration is planning to end the Obama-era rule under which spouses of H1-B visa holders are given work permit or H-4 visa, a move that could affect more than 70,000 such visa holders. A significantly large number of these H-4 visa holders are high-skilled professionals from India. Addressing her annual press conference here, Swaraj, when asked about the US plan, said it was true that President Donald Trump was reviewing the H-4 visa programme and there were reports of its possible revocation.
“This is not just for H-4, I am also talking of H1-B visa as well. We are making a three-pronged effort to save these visas. We are talking to the White House, we are talking to state adminstration, and we are also talking to Congressmen and Senators,” Swaraj said.
This has yielded results as 130 members of Parliament, both Congressmen and Senators, have written a letter to Trump asking him not to revoke H-4 visas, stating that the American economy will be jolted by it, she said.
“We are trying our best to save H1-B visas, H4 visas. But America is a sovereign country. Ultimately they have to decide. How successful we will be, will be decided in the future. But I assure the country from this platform that we would not spare any effort,” she said. The H-4 visa holders had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration. Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision. More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have benefited from this rule.
The 2015 rule allowed work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status — a process that can take a decade or longer.