- The H-4 visa, or the visa that named the spouses of H-1B visa holders as a "class of aliens eligible for employment authorization," may be in jeopardy, according to a Department of Homeland Security notice. There is no clear timeline of when or if the rules will be made official.
- The H-4 visa was implemented in 2015 by the Obama administration to help attract and retain foreign talent, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, critics say H-4 displaces even more American workers.
- In addition to the potential removal of the H-4 regulation, DHS also announced plans to "revise the definition of specialty occupation" so only the "brightest" applicants can be focused on, according to a DHS notice. Additional rules will also be applied so H-1B visa holders will receive proper compensation from employers.
The H-1B visa program saw a lot of uncertainty since President Trump took office. The "America first" policies the Trump administration stands on put it in direct conflict with major tech companies.
The H-1B visa program enables international talent to provide skills to some of the most powerful countries in the world. However, if spouses of H-1B recipients are no longer afforded the opportunity to work in the same country as their spouse, finding and retaining talent will be a challenge for employers.
This year proved to be the lowest in visa approval despite a $17.3 billion income increase internationally directed related to the program. There are 65,000 H-1B visas distributed to developers, engineers and data scientists. Half of all recipients in the last 10 years were brought on for their computer-related skill sets. In 2017, that number increased to about two-thirds.
However, the rate of approvals are also declining as requests for evidence increased by 44%. The entire visa program is in jeopardy and potentially impacts not only the working individuals but their U.S.-born children. Incentives to move to another country without family or the ability to work significantly impact the H-1B program.