One of the most painful aspects of working as an expat is being separated from one’s spouse. But there is good news for HB-1 visa holders: a new initiative by the Department of Homeland Security will allow spouses of those visa holders to receive work permits. Advocates of the plan say that it will make it easier for businesses to keep highly skilled workers in the United States, and give the country a competitive edge over competing nations.
Currently, dependents (H-4 nonimmigrants) do not receive authorization to work, but the proposed changes would allow it if the HB-1 holder is applying for permanent residence. This means that the U.S. can benefit from their education and initiative as well, and business and government leaders have concurred. “Many wives of HB-1 holders already have education and experience. It doesn’t make sense to not allow them to be with their spouses,” said one U.S. Commerce Department official.
The opportunities would be most available to those with the highest quality skills. Those with the most sought after skills would find these skills weigh more heavily in the decision to permit entry into the U.S. For instance, research scientists, physicians and professors will likely get top priority.
Activists and community leaders hail this as a major step, but feel there is work to be done. They say it’s time for Congress to make serious and permanent reform to the system. Many agree with this, and note that the initiative will clear much of the backlog that is weighing the system down already.