Proposed End to Work Permits for Foreign Workers’ Spouses Coming

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By Laura D. Francis

A proposal to rescind the work authorization granted to the spouses of skilled immigrant workers awaiting their green cards is on the way.

The Department of Homeland Security May 22 told a federal appeals court in Washington that its proposed rule is under “final DHS clearance” and will soon be headed to the Office of Management and Budget before getting approved for publication.

The proposal originally was supposed to come out in February, but it got pushed back because of “significant revisions” that required a new economic analysis, the DHS said in an earlier court filing.

The DHS last fall indicated its intent to do away with the work permits, which were granted under 2015 Obama administration regulations. The permits go to the dependent spouses of H-1B skilled guestworkers who are waiting for their green cards to become available.

About 94 percent of the spouses granted work permits under the program are women.

The DHS is facing some backlash: A bipartisan group of 130 lawmakers recently asked DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to scrap the proposal to rescind the work permits.

On the other hand, a group of U.S.-born information technology workers claims that the work permit program creates additional competition for jobs. They had appealed a federal district court’s ruling against them when the DHS asked that the appeals court put the case on hold while it considers new regulations.

The case is Save Jobs USA v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec. , D.C. Cir., No. 16-5287, status update 5/22/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at

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