Published on: Oct 09, 2018, Last Edited: Oct 09, 2018
After several months of discussion, the US administration last week announced to a federal court that it will come to a decision on revoking work permits for holders of H-4 USA visas within the next three months. In a move which will particularly impact on around 100,000 residents of Indian origin and their families, the US Department of Homeland Security told the District Court of Columbia that it will be submitting a new ruling to the OMB (White House Office of Management of Budget) that will prevent people on these visas from working. H-4 visas are issued to children and spouses of H-1B visa holders so if the move is finalised, people in this category will find themselves unable to work by December.
The H-1B programme currently permits skilled workers to enter the US to work for a named company and has been particularly popular among IT professionals from India. The H-4 visa is issued to immediate family members (spouse and children under the age of 21 years) of H-1B visa holders, allowing them to be employed while resident in the US. Previously to 2015, H-4 visa holders were not allowed to work but three years ago, the H-4 EAD programme was introduced by President Obama. Employment under an H-4 visa has not been restricted to a particular employer and no approval from the Dept of Labor is required.
Now, under President Trump’s “America First” policy, the rules around H-1B and H-4 visas are being tightened up. There have even been suggestions that this category might be scrapped completely, with the stated aim of preventing companies from employing foreign nationals in roles which could be carried out by American citizens.
Following the recent announcement that President Trump is considering stationing US troops in Poland permanently in order to resist potential Russian aggression, cooperation between the two countries could be further strengthened with Poland’s inclusion in the US visa waiver programme.
At a White House meeting, President Trump and President Andrzej Duda of Poland agreed that Russian belligerence in the region is considered likely to escalate and that the visa waiver programme is means of enhancing cooperation between the two countries regarding both security and the economy.
If Poland should join the visa waiver programme, this will allow Polish citizens the freedom to travel to the States without a US visa. Poland would then become one of 39 countries in the programme and would have access to shared information about terrorist suspects, criminals, lost and stolen documents and other shared security matters.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has given consular and immigration officials further grounds for denying entry to visitors to the US and to order them to leave if they are already here. Visitors must state their plans before entering the US and must then follow them through without any changes: for example, if something that they failed to mention in their original interview happens to change their plans, such as taking a job, getting married or going to college, they will be deemed to have lied deliberately.
This would make it very difficult or even impossible for them to change their status or apply for another kind of USA visa, and if they were still in the US, they would be subject to deportation. However, a change in plans that arises after the three month period, while still considered a problem, would not be seen as wilful misrepresentation. Under the old rules, a change of plans wwould have no longer been considered as wilful misrepresentation after a period of only one month after arriving in the US.
So if you should come to the States, fall in love and get married within a 3 month period, you would then be unable to apply for a green card. However, the new rule will not apply to visitors from the 38 countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan, who are currently eligible to come to the US without a visa.
Visitors from many countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East will still be dependendent on receiving a favourable decision on their visa application, while citizens of the 6 mainly Muslim countries who have been banned from entering the States since June will not be affected by these changes to USA immigration rules, since it is almost impossible for them to be granted a visa at present.