With the latest ruling, spouses of H1-B visa holders to breathe easy now – to be allowed to work in US


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US District Judge Tanya Chutkan has given the verdict that spouses of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are Indians, can work in the country, in a big relief to foreign workers in the American tech sector which has seen massive layoffs. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

The judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA. Tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft had opposed the lawsuit. The U.S. has so far issued nearly 1,00,000 work authorizations to spouses of H-1B workers, a significantly large number of whom are Indians.

In her order, Judge Chutkan said the primary contention of Save Jobs USA is that Congress has never granted the Department of Homeland Security authority to allow foreign nationals, like H-4 visa-holders, to work during their stay in the United States. But that contention runs headlong into the text of the Immigration and Nationality Act, decades of executive-branch practice and both explicit and implicit congressional ratification of that practice, she wrote.

The judge wrote that Congress has expressly and knowingly empowered the US Government to authorize employment as a permissible condition of an H-4 spouse’s stay in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security and its predecessors have authorized employment not just for students, but also for their spouses and dependents, Judge Chutkan wrote in the ruling. Also, the Department of Homeland Security has long extended work authorization to spouses of foreign government officials and spouses of employees or officers of international organizations, the judge wrote as she dismissed the lawsuit filed by Save Jobs USA.

The H1B visa program is designed to allow skilled foreign workers to come to the United States and work for American companies. However, until recently, H1B spouses were not allowed to work. With the court’s decision to allow H1B visa holders’ spouses to work, thousands of families across the country will be able to breathe a little easier. This decision will provide much-needed relief to families who have been struggling to make ends meet and it will help to ensure that these families can stay together and thrive. Save Jobs USA said it plans to appeal against the court ruling.

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