Immigration Voice files motion to save EAD for H-4 visa holders

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NEW YORK: The non-profit organization Immigration Voice has filed a motion in D.C. Circuit court to intervene on behalf of thousands of its members on an H-4 visa who have Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The motion is to ensure that the EAD of H-4 visa holders are not revoked because of a lawsuit filed by an anti-immigration group Save Jobs USA.

Immigration Voice has over 100,000 members that advocates for the alleviation of restrictions on employment, travel, and working conditions faced by legal high-skilled immigrants in the United States working as doctors, researchers, scientists, and engineers at many of America’s Fortune 500 companies.

On February 25, 2015, the Obama administration issued a rule through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allowing certain spouses of H-1B high-skilled visa-holders, on an H4 visa, to work in the United States while the H-1B visa holder awaits the receipt of his/her lawful permanent residency card (green card).

This rule is critically important to allow both parents in families to work and provide for their loved ones together in the United States rather than being separated in two different countries during what is often over a decade long wait for a green card. Many of the H-4 dependent spouses have started business once they received work authorization, thereby creating jobs for U.S. citizens and residents, said a press release issued by Immigration Voice.

Almost immediately after this rule was issued, Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia arguing that the Obama administration lacked the authority to issue work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders. The District Court granted summary judgment to DHS, holding that Save Jobs USA lacked standing to sue and upholding the rule.

Save Jobs USA filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After Save Jobs USA filed its initial brief last month, the Department of Justice surprisingly filed a document on February 1, 2017 entitled “Consent Motion to Hold Proceedings in Abeyance for 60 Days.”

Instead of filing the brief it was supposed to file on February 10, 2017 that would defend the District Court’s decision on standing and on the merits, the Trump administration asked for a 60-day pause in the case to “allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues.”

This is especially concerning to Immigration Voice because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when he was a United States Senator, called the H-4 Rule a “change [in] immigration law in a way that hurts American workers,” even though this rule has actually allowed many H-4 visa holders the ability to start businesses in the United States that employ American workers that would otherwise not have jobs if the Rule had not been promulgated.

Immigration Voice said in the press release that “intervention in the Save Jobs lawsuit was the only option to protect the rights of our members and their families, including children who are US citizens.”

Sudarshana Sengupta, on a H-4 visa, shared her story: “I have been involved in biomedical research for the last thirteen (13) years in this country, initially as a J2 dependent (work authorization) and later on H-1B visa. In August 2015, I decided to use H4 visa EAD work authorization to continue my research. During the course of my research career, I have worked at and published from notable academic institutions like Harvard University, University of Chicago and Boston University, investigating molecular biological aspects of diseases such as cancer and certain cardiovascular conditions. I am currently involved in preclinical research developing effective strategies for cancer immunotherapy. I am on the verge of launching my own startup developing cancer immunotherapy strategies based on my preclinical studies. However, if H4-EAD is taken away, then I will be unable to launch my startup.”

Anuj Dhamija, another H4 visa holder said: “I have been legally working in the US since 2010 as a Project Manager for a reputed Fortune 100 company. Due to decades long wait to get our green card, I made a switch to the H4 EAD program as it was the only option for me to pursue my business ventures in the interim. On this program, I was able to keep my existing job and also start up my small High End Luxurious Home Remodeling Business. Per my business plan, I targeted to generate $775k revenue in Year 1, $1.6m in Year 2 and $1.9m in Year 3. Along the way, I expected to create 5-10 new American jobs in the construction industry. If this program ceased to exist, I will lose all my investment in the new business and also my job as there will be no other legal option for me to work in the USA. I will face significant financial hardships and won’t be able to provide for my growing family.”

Aman Kapoor, the Co-Founder and President of Immigration Voice, said in a statement: “Immigration Voice could not simply wait until it was too late to see if the Department of Justice would defend the reasoned decision of the District Court dismissing Save Jobs’ complaint. There is nothing for the Department of Justice attorneys to confer with their leadership about given the District Court’s clear decision stating that this case had no basis for ever being filed. The recent statements from the Government present an unacceptable risk for Immigration Voice members that DOJ might decide after 60 days to adopt the position of Save Jobs USA. Any failure to provide the strongest possible defense of the District Court’s decision risks establishing a precedent prohibiting H-4 visa holders from working under the current statutory regime. Under these circumstances, Immigration Voice felt compelled to act to protect the existing and future work permits of our members.”

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