The debate over immigration has been contentious in Arizona and around the country since Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president in 2015, and the row over H1-B visas has been particularly fierce. These are the employment-based visas that allow companies to attract job candidates from overseas when workers with the necessary skills cannot be found locally, but critics of the program say that technology firms in particular take advantage of H1-B visas and use them to bring in cheap foreign labor instead of paying fair market rates to Americans.
The furor over employment-based visas has also raised questions about whether or not the spouses and minor children of H1-B visa holders, who are issued what are known as H-4 visas, should be allowed to work in the United States. President Trump thinks they should not, and he proposed that the rules be changed to reflect his views when he signed his ‘Buy American and Hire American” executive order in April. The proposed rule change only apples to certain H-4 visa holders, but the executive order does not make clear how these decisions will be made.
An attorney representing the Department of Homeland Security told a federal judge on Aug. 20 that the rule was still scheduled to be introduced and was undergoing its final clearance review. Opponents of the change say that many of the affected spouses are highly qualified university graduates who are well compensated and pay significant amounts of income tax. Research suggests that about 100,000 H-4 visa holders, the vast majority of whom are women from India, could lose their jobs if the new rule is adopted.
Attorneys familiar with U.S. immigration law could help H1-B visa holders and their spouses to avoid jeopardizing their legal status in the United States by keeping them abreast of new rules and regulatory changes. Attorneys could also help those who dream of living and working legally in America to pursue asylum claims or apply for family or employment-based visas.