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US risks losing talented H1-B visa holders to Canada

New Delhi, 4 November – The U.S. risks losing talented foreigners, especially those married to other skilled professionals, to Canada, which grants work permits to the spouses of all skilled foreign workers, says new Research says.

However, granting employment authorization to all spouses of H-1B visa holders will encourage more skilled immigrants, including Indians, to choose the United States over Canada, according to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy. It became clear.

“The United States would reap significant economic benefits from expanding the current rules regarding the work eligibility of spouses of H-1B visa holders, easing labor shortages and increasing the number of workers in the global competition for talent. workers,” said the study authored by Madeline Zavodny.

The number of Indians who obtained permanent residency in Canada increased by more than 115% between 2016, 2020 and 2021.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States via H4 (dependent) visas.

H4 visas are issued to dependents and children accompanying H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States.

Spouses of H-1B visa holders tend to be highly educated, many of them work in STEM fields, and have previously had careers of their own or worked to support their families.

“Allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work on arrival helps recruit and retain skilled workers and enhance the already substantial economic benefits of the H-1B visa category.” says Zavodny.

She estimates that almost 90% of spouses of H-1B visa holders have at least a bachelor’s degree, and more than half have graduate degrees (2017-2019). (Based on data from the American Social Survey).

Of these 90% spouses, two-thirds are from India and 6% are from China.

“Almost half of spouses of H-1B visa holders with a bachelor’s degree had a STEM-related major. are working in the STEM field,” she pointed out.

Under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations issued in 2015, spouses of H4 visa holders may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Currently, H4 spouses can only apply for EAD if their H-1B spouse is in queue for a permanent visa.

This usually does not occur until the H-1B has been in service in the US for several years. In fact, some spouses can apply only after the H-1B spouse has worked in the United States for at least six years.

H4 visa holders must be selected in the H-1B lottery. This draw only takes place once a year for him and the odds of winning are low.

Significant delays in processing H4 EADs are plaguing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and spouses who need approval to work.

Spouses of workers holding an L-1 intracompany transferee visa, an E-1 Agreement Trader, an E-2 Agreement Investor, or an E-3 Professional Worker visa from Australia can work.

Spouses of these visa holders are considered “employment certification attached to the status”. This means that your visa allows you to work and you do not need to apply for a separate EAD.


Since mid-2015, approximately 171,000 H-4 visa holders have been approved for employment, a significant portion of whom are from India.

In 2021, Indians had the highest number of H1B visas, accounting for over 74% of the quota.

Of the Rs 40,700 H1-B visas approved by USCIS, Rs 30,100 were allocated to Indians and 50,000 Chinese received visas.

Studies show that the H-1B visa category promotes economic growth, creates jobs for American workers, and slows the offshoring of high-paying jobs.

“If allowed to work, these spouses would make a substantial contribution to the U.S. labor market because they would be in jobs with very low unemployment and high job openings,” Zavodny said. increase. US risks losing talented H1-B visa holders to Canada

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