The end of H-4 spouse employment authorization, one of the most closely watched proposals of the Trump administration, is moving closer to reality.  On February 20, 2019, the US Department of Homeland Security sent the proposed rule, ending H-4 employment authorization, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  H-4 foreign nationals are spouses of H-1B Professionals.

It is widely believe that the proposed rule will be published by March 18, 2019.

If this proposed rule is enacted, it is estimated that more than 90,000 workers in the US economy could lose their jobs.  According to US Citizenship and Immigration Service data, 93% of H-4 spouses with employment authorization are women.

“H-1B workers and their families are most successful when their spouses have the ability to contribute to their household income and our economy, and the freedom to use their skills and pursue their goals. It is an American value that everyone — regardless of gender — deserves to be able to use and enhance their skills, be financially self-sufficient, thrive mentally and physically, and pursue their dreams,” Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mia Love, R-Utah wrote in a letter to DHS May 16, 2018.  The letter drew support from 130 lawmakers.

As time frames for acquisition of lawful permanent resident status (“green cards”) increase by dozens of years, and adjudication of benefits languish, highly skilled foreign workers are faced with an unattractive choice.  Should they continue enduring harm to their families due to inactivity and loss of earning potential, or return to their home countries where their children will need to begin new lives as foreigners in a new country?

Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, a comment period will be opened.  Regulators must address all public comments before finalizing the regulation. With the movement of the proposed regulation to the OMB, it is likely that the regulation will become final within the next 6 months.