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Eshoo, Lofgren Reintroduce Legislation To Protect Work Authorizations

May 29th, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) reintroduced the H-4 Employment Protection Act, legislation prohibiting the Trump Administration from revoking an Obama-era rule that extends work authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visa holders, including thousands of immigrants in Silicon Valley.

This week, the Trump Administration announced plans to overturn current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations that allow certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders who are stuck in green card backlogs to obtain employment authorization, pursue their own professional goals, and contribute to the U.S. economy. Many H-4 visa holders are highly skilled professionals, and DHS previously extended eligibility for employment authorization to them recognizing the economic burdens of families of many H-1B workers, particularly those who live in high cost areas like Silicon Valley on a single income as they await green card approvals. Since the rule was implemented, over 100,000 workers, mainly women, have received employment authorization, and the H-4 Employment Protection Act prohibits the Trump Administration from revoking this important rule.

“H-4 visa holders deserve a chance to contribute to their local economies and provide for their families,” Rep. Eshoo said. “This is a matter of economic fairness and this legislation ensures it will continue.”

“While the Trump Administration sits on its hands and does nothing, American citizens in-waiting are stuck in line for their number to come up,” Rep. Lofgren said. “Nobody benefits from this system, least of all the American economy, when H-1B dependent spouses are prohibited from working. Many of these are accomplished and qualified individuals whose skills we’ll lose to other countries unless the Administration finds a more sensible approach to immigration.”

Last November, Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren originally introduced the H-4 Employment Protection Act. In March 2018, Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren led 13 Members of Congress in writing to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging her to reconsider DHS’s proposal to revoke eligibility for employment authorization to H-4 dependent spouses.

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