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Court upholds right of H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in US

A Washington court has provided a major relief for Indian techies by upholding the right of highly skilled H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in the US (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

In a major relief for Indian techies, a court in Washington has upheld the right of highly skilled H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in the US. 

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday upheld the Obama-era rule under which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued H-4 visas to the spouses of hundreds of thousands of H-1B workers in the US.  Indian IT engineers comprise a major chunk of this highly skilled workforce.

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple  were among the tech companies who urged the judge to dismiss the petition against the H-4 visa rule.

The judge rejected arguments by Save Jobs USA, a group representing Southern California Edison computer professionals who said they had lost their jobs to H-1B visa-holders

The ability of H-1B holders’ spouses to also get jobs in the US has been a major attraction for highly skilled foreign workers, the tech companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have asserted.

Save Jobs had claimed Homeland Security wasn’t legally permitted to put the rule in place and sought to eliminate work authorizations for more than 90,000 new H-4 visa holders.

“Plaintiff’s primary contention is that Congress has never granted DHS authority to allow foreign nationals, like H-4 visa-holders, to work during their stay in the United States,. 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,” the judge ruled.

The tech companies had argued that 87% of families affected had made important life decisions, including whether to buy a house or whether to have a child, based on the ability of a skilled-worker’s spouse to be employed under H-4. .

Save Jobs USA said it plans to appeal against the court ruling