In a significant decision, the United States Supreme Court has recently declined to review a favourable ruling from a lower court, upholding the H-4 Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) rule.
This ruling ensures that the H-4 EAD rule will remain in effect, alleviating the concerns of spouses of H-1B visa holders, many of whom are of Indian origin.
Relief for Indian Spouses
The H-4 EAD rule, initially introduced during the Obama administration in 2015, aims to address the challenges faced by certain immigrant groups, particularly the Indian diaspora, who have endured substantial delays in obtaining employment-based green cards.
Under the H-4 EAD rule, spouses holding an H-4 visa are eligible to apply for employment authorization when their H-1B visa partner is on track for a green card or has received an extension beyond the standard six-year limit.
This rule provides a crucial lifeline, allowing the spouses to work or be self-employed while waiting for their green card applications to be processed.
Impact on Indian Spouses
Official data from December 2017 indicated that approximately 84,360 Indian spouses held an EAD, constituting 93% of all EADs issued. Current estimates suggest that nearly 100,000 Indian spouses, primarily women, possess EADs, granting them the freedom to pursue employment opportunities in the United States.
Backlogs and Wait Times
The H-4 EAD rule has proven essential for Indian immigrants, as they grapple with severe backlogs in employment-based green card categories, such as EB-2 and EB-3. According to a recent study by the Cato Institute, over 1.07 million Indians are entangled in this green card backlog, a situation projected to take an astonishing 134 years to clear.
When accounting for factors like mortality and ageing, the wait time for a green card is still a staggering 54 years.
This Supreme Court decision reaffirms the importance of the H-4 EAD rule for Indian spouses and other immigrant groups, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the prolonged green card backlogs. The ruling signifies that the EAD rule will remain intact, allowing spouses to continue contributing to the U.S. workforce and economy.
(Source and Inputs from TOI)