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Foreigners with working spouses in US may qualify for job permits

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A passport with the American visa.

The United States will allow foreigners whose spouses are legally employed in the United States to apply for employment in that country as well.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a release that it expects as many as 179,600 applicants in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years.

Under the Obama administration, extending eligibility for employment authorisation to "certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants" is one of several initiatives under way to modernise visa programmes.

The intent is to grow the US economy and create jobs, said Leon Rodriguez, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations.

The regulations define a 'speciality occupation' as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge in areas including biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialities, theology, and the arts.

The US Department of Homeland Security is extending eligibility for employment authorisation to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status, effective May 26, 2015.

Rodriguez said the move will help US businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in the country during the transition from temporary worker status to permanent residency.

It was noted that several H-1B non-immigrants abandon efforts to remain in the United States while seeking lawful permanent residence, because of the financial challenges involved.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com