LEXINGTON, Kentucky. Donald Trump’s administration has discussed putting an end to the H-4 visa work authorization. The H-4 work visa is a special work authorization granted to spouses of H1-B holders who are also applying for a Green Card. Because the Green Card application process can sometimes take years, the H-4 visa can serve as a stopgap, giving spouses the right to work while they wait for their Green Cards to be approved.

However, if the Trump administration gets its way, for many spouses of H-1B visa holders, their ability to work in the U.S. could be compromised starting in 2018. This could have an immense impact on women’s rights and on a woman’s ability to work in the U.S. According to QZ, 90% of H-4 visa holders are women.

Individuals who hold H-1B visas can apply for a Green Card, but it can take years before a Green Card is approved. For Indian workers in the U.S., the Green Card process can take up to 12 years. For women who don’t have authorization to work during this process, the years while they wait for work authorization can be lonely, depressing, and lead to anxiety. Other women write about cases where they suffered domestic violence at the hand of a spouse but had no economic freedom through work of their own and had no way to escape the cycle. Many of the women who accompany spouses on H1-B visas are highly-qualified in their own rights, but may face challenges getting a visa of their own—either because of gender bias, lack of opportunities, or other issues.

For many women, the H-4 work authorization was life-changing. Women were able to enter the workforce, support their families, and regain a sense of purpose. If the Trump administration changes the H-4 visa policy, these women’s well-being may be on the line. Some women have set up their own businesses. They have created jobs in their communities. Were they to lose the H-4 visa, not only would they be impacted, but others would be as well.

According to CNN, the change in policy to the H-4 visa won’t limit spouses of H1-B visas from pursuing other avenues for immigration and work. What should you do if you currently hold an H-4 visa and are concerned about losing your work authorization?

First, make sure that your spouse is up to date on all paperwork for a Green Card. If you are unsure where you should be in this process, you may want to speak to a qualified Green Card lawyer in Lexington, Kentucky like the O’Brien Law Group. Furthermore, you may want to consider other avenues for seeking work authorization in the U.S. For example, you may qualify for an H1-B yourself. In other cases, there may be other avenues, such as investment visas, TNs, and other work authorization options. However, immigration and work authorization can get complex. Consider speaking to a qualified Green Card lawyer today to learn more about the options you might have. Visit us at http://robrienlaw.com/ today.

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