NEW YORK: The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for certain H-4 visa holders is still intact and has not been revoked. Or at least, it could be safe till October 1, 2017, that is, with a caveat. What is known for sure for now is that the EAD of H-4 visa holders is safe for the next 60 days.
In a surprising new development, the Trump administration on Monday, April 3, asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a period of 180 days’ time for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deliberate on new rules, if at all, to be made for the work permits known as EAD issued to eligible H-4 visa holders.
Lawyers for the US government also informed the court that they will update the court every 60 days concerning the review process by the DHS, and if they have determined their course of action before the 180 days, they will then do so.
What this technically means is that the EAD for H-4 visa holders is definitely safe for the next 60 days, but if the Trump administration comes up with their proposal to revoke it on the 61st day, then it would be up to the court to decide the outcome of the case, well before the 180 days’ time.
The US government was responding in court to a lawsuit brought by an anti-immigration advocacy group Save Jobs USA.
Save Jobs USA want existing EAD for H-4 visa holders to be revoked, and that the Department of Homeland Security stop issuing any more EAD for H-4 visa holders, as according to them it hurts the job chances of American workers. They also contend that, according to law, only H-1B visa holders are allowed to legally work in the US, not their dependents on H-4 visa.
After years of struggle and hundreds of petitions by lawyers and advocacy groups for H-4 visa holders, the Obama administration had relented on Feb. 25, 2015, and ruled that certain H-4 visa holders would be eligible for EAD.
This is the second time this year that the US government is asking for more time in the case. Two months ago, in February, they had asked for 60 days’ time, to prepare for the case brought by Save Jobs USA.
Also, it remains to be seen if the court will allow a non-profit pro-immigration group Immigration Voice to fight on behalf of H-4 visa holders.
Immigration Voice recently filed a motion in D.C. Circuit court to intervene on behalf thousands of its members on an H-4 visa who have EAD.
Immigration Voice got concerned by the action of DHS, especially 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 an earlier 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.”
For now, it also seems as if the Trump administration has backed off warily from the H-4 visa EAD case, following several reversals in courts across the US, especially relating to travel bans, and the recent defeat of their effort to repeal Obamacare. It has caused tremendous embarrassment to President Donald Trump and the White House.
It’s likely that the Trump administration is now biding its time to revoke the EAD for H-4 visa holders, and trying to build a strong case and look for an opportune timing as well. A defeat in the H-4 visa case would have been seen as another embarrassing defeat for Trump and Sessions in their efforts to curb legal immigration, a lynchpin of their campaign for American workers.
H-4 visa holders can exhale for now. For how long though, it remains to be seen.