U.S. Senators Seek Preservation for Women on H-4 VisasTop Stories

September 27, 2018 11:03
U.S. Senators Seek Preservation for Women on H-4 Visas

(Image source from: Indiawest.com)

Days after Trump administration proclaimed of revoking H-4 visas in three months, the two powerful Democratic women senators have urged the administration not to go with its decision of revoking.

Major H-4 visa holders are Indian-Americans, and as doing so would impact nearly 100,000 women.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand from New York and Kamala Harris from California wrote a letter on the issue to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and USCIS Director L Francis Cissna.

Trump administration is reviewing the H-1B visa policy that it thinks is being ill-used by companies to replace American workers. It has said publicly and likewise in its court filing, it wants to revoke work permits to H-4 visa holders.

As Indian women are a major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule, the decision will have a major impact on them.

"Rescinding the H-4 rule will result in significant personal hardship to women who will be forced to abandon their professional careers," the two senators wrote in their letter.

"Preventing women from engaging in employment can lead to isolation, depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt, and a loss of self-worth. Revoking a wife's ability to work leaves her and her children entirely dependent on her spouse. Increased isolation coupled with complete financial dependence can make leaving an abusive relationship dangerous and, in some cases, impossible," they wrote.

Asserting that equal opportunity and independence are fundamental American values, they said an action to deprive spousal H-4 visa holders the ability to proceed to follow their professional careers is unlike to principles this country is built on.

"We urge you to consider the economic, psychological, and personal harms that rescinding the H-4 rule will cause to more than 100,000 professional women, their families, and their American communities," they said.

The first Indian-origin American Senator and Gillibrand said an annulment of the H-4 rule would "disproportionately target" South Asian women.

"In 2017, 94 percent of H-4 visa holders with work authorization were women and 93 percent were from India. Currently, no more than seven percent of approximately 375,000 family and employment-based green cards issued annually can go to nationals from the same country," they said.

"As a result, over 306,000 Indian applicants and 67,000 Chinese applicants whose applications have been approved are currently in line to receive a green card. Because of the backlog, H1-B visa holders and dependent H-4 visa holders from certain countries in the U.S. are forced to wait from 12 years to an impossible 150 years to receive green cards," they said.

In the letter, Harris and Gillibrand said requiring professional women to give up their careers to keep their families united will cause serious harm to their children.

Galore H-1B families live in higher-cost areas such as Silicon Valley or Seattle, where having two incomes is not a luxury but a need.

"Rescinding the H-4 rule would create a permanent barrier to employment including self-employment for these women, reinforcing a harmful stereotype that women do not belong in the workplace and widening the gender equality gap," the senators wrote.

By Sowmya Sangam

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