As from May 26, 2015,  certain H4 visa holders whose spouses have either an approved I-140 or are on 6th year AC 21 extension, can actually file for an H4 Work permit.  It is important to make sure that the H4 EAD is a good option for you.  As such it is recommended to have an attorney review or work on the case for you before you file.  The article below relates to the time when the H4 visa holders were struggling and fighting for their rights and their rights to obtain a work permit. The Shah Peerally Law Group PC is proud to have been by the side of the H4 visa holders and is now still supporting them to obtain a work permit. Please call us at 510 742 5887 if you need help.

By Rachana

h4-visa-lawyersH4 visa holders are often very highly qualified people who accompany their highly skilled spouses to the US. The justification for not granting a work permit to these H4 spouses is that they willingly came to the US, fully aware that they would not be able to work, unless they get their own H1 sponsored.

This justification makes sense in theory but when put it in the real world context, it is absolutely thoughtless.
In today’s global world, skilled people get international opportunities that promise to boost their careers and hence decide to move to the US. Leaving their spouses behind does not work in most normal marriages. And so, despite being fully aware of the H4 legislations, spouses come as H4 dependents, sometimes in the hope that they might be able to apply for their own H1. This leads me to my first point on why H4s should be granted EADs

The process for getting an H1 sponsored while you are on H4 is extremely complicated. It is ridiculous to say the least, given the extremely limited number of H1s available. The whole process, from getting a job offer to actually having your H1 approved and to eventually start working takes at least 6 months. Unlike Masters Students, H4s don’t have an OPT on which they can start working while their H1 is being processed.

So, if after months of struggling and networking, you eventually get a job offer in March end and the company files for your H1 in the first week of April (given that H1s get over in a week and there are lotteries conducted), you can start working only on 1st Oct after your H1 gets approved. In today’s dynamic world where jobs change every month, it is nothing but ridiculous to ask a company to wait 6 months for you. You can be Einstein and yet, no company will have the time to wait 6 months for you. Add to that complexities like H1 lotteries and having an H1 sponsored while you’re on H4 becomes next to impossible.

I can say from my personal experience that it is devastating when after all this effort, you do find a great company that sponsors your H1 and is willing to wait for 6 months, and your H1 does not get selected in the lottery!
Some may argue that higher education is always an option which leads me to my second point.

I believe that education should never be just a means to getting a job or passing time while your spouse waits for his greencard to come through. Study if it adds value, enhances your career and if you are really passionate about a particular field. Adding one more feather to your cap for the heck of it is a waste of time and money.

The third reason for granting EADs to H4 visa holders is that it the only incentive to attract and retain highly skilled H1s in the US. Lack of EAD for H4 spouses in most cases forces reverse brain drain of skilled H1s, a phenomenon detrimental to the US economy.
The fourth reason for granting EADs to H4s is that it boosts the US economy. The fear is that H4s will take away American jobs but the truth is that in an open, capitalist economy, companies will only hire the more deserving candidate irrespective of her nationality. EAD is only a work permit; it’s not a job offer. It just puts H4s on level playing field with the rest of the country and then it comes down to the specific skills of a person that gets her hired.

The next reason for granting EAD to H4s is that being able to work is everybody’s fundamental right. Why is an H4 penalised ? For choosing to move to the US with her highly skilled spouse ? If the US thinks that every American citizen should work, why does it’s reasoning change when it comes to H4 dependents ?

The last reason is purely humanitarian. It is inhuman to deny a qualified, educated and willing person the right to work and force her to stay home and not do anything productive that can bring in money. Over prolonged periods, women start to lose their identity , confidence and their reason for existence. The lack of self worth becomes so profound that it forces people into severe depression.
There is no logical reason for denying EADs to H4s and I hope that my points highlight why they should be given EADs.

Author Rachana – Rachana is MBA Graduate from HEC, Paris. she has a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering from India. Sh worked at Goldman Sachs India for 3 years. Now she has been living in Seattle for 1.5 years on H4 Visa.