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Spouses of H-1B visa holders can work in US

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Spouses of H-1B visa holders can work in US

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Spouses of H-1B visa holders can work in US

Spouses of H-1B visa holders can work in US

The United States government made a significant announcement that will affect scores of Indian women (and surely, some men). Spouses of H1B visas will be allowed to work in the country starting 26 May, 2015.

This is great news, of course, for the many wives who have spent years waiting for their husband’s green card, and for the simple right to earn a living .

 

Everyone knows about the ‘mommy track’, but the restrictions imposed on a woman’s career by a baby pales in comparison to those inflicted by the US government on a H-4 spouse. The law is brutal: No freelance work, no internships, paid or unpaid, no volunteer work.

As someone who spent three years in the Bay Area, terrified my career would never recover from this INS-imposed hiatus at a critical stage in my life (from the ages 27 to 30), I know how depressing and demoralising this limbo can be. Losing the right to work wasn’t a trivial inconvenience, but felt instead like an amputation of the self.

And I just endured it for three years because my spouse was eligible for an accelerated green card track. The Internet is littered with desperate appeals from Indian women who face the prospect of losing up to a decade of their working lives – a gap that may permanently hinder their professional prospects.

But career is just one casualty of the current law. The H-4 spouse not only loses her right to work, but also her most basic right to freedom – which is why the H-4 is so often dubbed the ‘prisoner visa’. As Global Voices notes, “Holders of this visa cannot obtain a Social Security number, the de facto national identification number for taxation, job applications and other tracking purposes.”

Actually, there’s not very much a person can do in the United States without a Social Security number. She can’t even open a bank account or get a credit card. Add to that the threat of deportation if the marriage fails, and it becomes clear why the H-4 is a ‘dependent’ visa in every sense of the word.

 

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