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Changes may be ahead for spouses of H-1B visa holders

The spouses of workers who are in Arizona under H-1B visas may lose the right to work in the United States under a proposed regulation sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Many couples in this position are already waiting a long time for their green cards. The combination of the H-1B visa for one and employment authorization documents for the other allows them to both work during this wait.

The proposed regulation change has employers and visa holders alike looking for solutions. One possible answer might be for a U.S. company to transfer an H-1B visa worker to Canada for a year. With the same language and a similar culture, this would not represent a significant change for the worker, who might be allowed to work remotely and cross into the U.S. as needed. The spouse would be permitted to work in Canada.

Such an arrangement could actually be to the immigrant's benefit. Instead of an H-1B visa, the employee might then qualify for either an L-1B visa or an L-1A visa. The former is for a specialized knowledge worker and the latter for a manager or executive. Both visa types would allow the spouse to work and would reduce the processing time for a longer-term visa.

While U.S. immigration law is always complex, it has become even more so due to many recent policy changes. Those who are dealing with any aspect of immigration law, including naturalization, seeking asylum, bringing in family members or getting visas for school, might want to consult an attorney. Legal counsel could help a client understand the current laws.

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