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Barring H-4 Spouses From Employment Discriminates Against Indian Families | Letters to the Editor

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Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation have expressed concern over the Trump Administration’s plan to revoke a 2015 rule created by President Barack Obama allowing spouses of H-1B skilled labor visa holders to seek employment under the H-4 visa. The initial rule took into account the financial and emotional stress faced by immigrant workers and their families, and sought to allow spouses on H-4 visas to contribute taxable income to support their households.

This announcement from the Department of Homeland Security regarding thousands of H-4 visa holders comes several months after President Donald Trump ordered a review of the H-1B visa program. Additional restrictions to the H-1B program itself are expected in the upcoming year. Media reports indicated that this was an attempt to enhance the Administration’s “Buy American – Hire American” initiative.

“The vast majority of H-1B visas issued to skilled laborers are from India, and the proposed rule change will have a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on Indian immigrants, the vast majority of whom are Hindu” said Samir Kalra, HAF Senior Director for Policy, based in San Jose, Calif. “If the rule is changed it would jeopardize the livelihoods of skilled immigrant labor families, and hinder the positive economic impact they have on our country.”

Currently, the backlog for obtaining Green Card status, which most H-1B workers from India utilize to immigrate to the United States, is decades long due to country-cap restrictions. H-4 visa holders are often skilled workers in their own respective fields. The vast majority of H-1B/H-4 couples are also residing in metropolitan areas where there is a labor shortage, not where unemployment is high.

“Indian skilled workers, who fill a major void in the American labor force, have long endured unwarranted criticism, and at times harassment, for America’s broken immigration system. This year we saw a heinous hate crime murder perpetrated against an H-1B worker in Kansas, whose widow is an H-4 visa holder herself. Neither side of the political spectrum seems interested in addressing this critical immigration issue, and now spouses, most of whom are women, who are no threat to American workers are casualties of this gridlock,” added Kalra.

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-partisan advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. The Foundation educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide, and builds bridges with institutions and individuals whose work aligns with HAF’s objectives. HAF focuses on human and civil rights, public policy, media, academia, and interfaith relations. Through its advocacy efforts, HAF seeks to cultivate leaders and empower future generations of Hindu Americans.

The Hindu American Foundation is not affiliated with any religious or political organizations or entities. HAF seeks to serve Hindu Americans across all sampradayas (Hindu religious traditions) regardless of race, color, national origin, citizenship, caste, gender, sexual orientation, age and/or disability.

Mat McDermott

Hindu American Foundation

Washington, D.C. 

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