Spouses of foreign workers could lose ability to work under immigration rule change

Credit: Carolyn Kaster

Credit: Carolyn Kaster

Spouses of foreign workers in the U.S. on H-1B visas could lose their ability to work under proposed rule changes from the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday, directing U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and make changes so that H-1B visas are awarded to the “most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.”

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The changes, part of Trump's Buy American and Hire American initiative, could impact nearly 100,000 foreign citizens working as H-4 employees, the San Jose Mercury News reportedH-4 workers are the spouses of foreign workers using H-1B visas.

"Some U.S. workers would benefit from this proposed rule by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold," the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration said in a notice.

The public will be given the ability to comment on proposed rule changes, L. Frank Cissna, citizenship and immigration director wrote in a Sept. 6 letter to the Internet Association, whose members include Facebook and Google, which employee many foreign workers on H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa allowing foreigners in specialty fields to work in the United States on a temporary basis for up to six years. There were 199,000 applicants this year vying for the 85,000 H-1B visas available, officials said Monday.

“With this action, we are sending a powerful signal to the world,” Trump said. “We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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