New H-1B Visa Policy Wins Praise

Immigration InnovationWith damaging consequences to the U.S. economy, changes in outdated visa rules will bring a much-needed boost to the nation’s immigration scene. Focusing on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker says the change is good news not only for the nation’s economy, but for immigrants themselves.

Beginning later this spring—May 26— the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin granting employment authorization eligibility to certain H-4 dependent spouses. The policy shift is part of the executive action plan on immigration that President Obama announced in November last year.

In a March 2015  Inc. Magazine article carrying her byline, Secretary Pritzker cites the lack of work ability for those classified as H-4 dependent spouses as a polity fraught with the wreckage of unintended consequences. For instance, with one spouse denied employment authorization, the couple’s economic viability diminishes. The situation inevitably leads to an overwhelming sense of frustration for each spouse. In the worst case scenario, the commerce secretary writes, H-1B visa holders simply end up abandoning their years-long investment toward establishing permanent residency and in building a life in the United States.

The implications of the situation are far-reaching and go beyond the individual lives of immigrants, according to the article. Not only do U.S. companies lose the unique skills of immigrants with H-1B status, but the innovative processes and productivity of spouses with H-4 dependent spouse status is also lost.

“We can no longer allow our failed immigration policies to be a roadblock for immigrants to make a fresh start in America,” Pritzker says in the article. “The fact is, the United States was built by the kinds of immigrants who will benefit from this new policy change.”

Pritzker backs up her point with numbers as well. More than one-quarter of new businesses are started by immigrant entrepreneurs. Of Fortune 500 companies, some 40 percent were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Among the well-known corporate names are tech giants Yahoo and Google as well as hardware haven Home Depot.

“The new visa rule will allow tens of thousands of spouses of H-1B workers to forge their own paths and careers, just like those that came before them,” Pritzker says in the article.