There is a lot of uncertainty for H-1B and H-4 technology workers these days. In the United States, these specially credentialed workers put their immigration status to good use in roles where there often aren’t enough qualified Americans to fill the spots. But, if the current political administration makes the changes they’ve discussed, these documented workers could potentially see their status changed or revoked altogether.
The Status of H-1B and H-4 Visas
Traditionally, the H-1B visa has been awarded to foreign workers coming to staff jobs in the U.S. where there are not enough qualified U.S. workers. This has been particularly effective for technology companies who often struggle to find enough engineers to do the work. (the connotations of this sentence implies ownership of wives by their husbands- wives are not slaves, but autonomous….rework sentence), but the married partners of H-1B visa holders must apply for the H-4 visa employment authorization document (EAD). When accepted, EAD holders can work without a green card, which has been a boon to technology companies struggling to find talent. However, under the current administration, there are troubling signs these valuable worker statuses could soon be revoked.
What’s Ahead for H-1B and H-4 Visas?
Fast Company reports that the current wait time for green cards is about a decade. This makes the H-1B and H-4 visas more valuable for bringing in technology workers as a bolster to the U.S. economy. The Fast Company article reports these are highly skilled workers; 60 percent have postgraduate or professional degrees.
But it appears there is a movement afoot to remove the immigration status of these workers by revoking work permits for H-4 visa holders. Of the current talent pool in the U.S. under this immigration status, Fast Company reports the majority have lived and worked in this country for an average of five years. 75 percent of these workers are “highly skilled Indian immigrants.” In addition to working in technology fields, H-4 visa holders are architects, nurses, teachers or working in other highly-skilled jobs. Most have been working diligently toward full citizenship in the United States.
What’s Next for H-1B and H-4 Visa Holders?
Dice predicts that instead of one sweeping measure to eliminate H-4 visa holder status, the current administration will likely continue a series of small maneuvers designed to further restrict access to these statuses. They also want on to suggest that Homeland Security is signaling a new crackdown on American companies to prove they made a “good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers before filling an H-1B petition.”
Could this have an impact on the candidate pool, particularly in the technology sector? Fast Company suggests it will potentially have a negative impact on our ability to attract new technology workers from China and India. One lawmaker, Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), says restricting access to work for the spouses of H-1B visa holders is simply the wrong approach, stating, “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to welcome one person to contribute their considerable skills to our economy, but tell their spouse that they have to stay home.”
To Get Help Finding Talented Tech Professionals, Reach Out to NueVista
No matter what happens with these programs, these changes to federal law will require hiring managers to seek new approaches to finding talent in a tough labor market. NueVista offers HR teams a set of experienced team members standing by to find the best talent for the job at hand. Contact us to talk about your options today.