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Spouses of H-1B visa holders will soon be allowed to work

Many people in New York know of the H-1B visa. It allows highly skilled workers from other companies to work for U.S. companies. What some people may not realize, however, is that the spouses of these individuals -- usually living in the country on an H-4 visa -- are not allowed to pursue careers in the U.S.

This rule has posed challenges for many spouses who left lucrative and prestigious careers in their home country to come to the U.S. Years without even the option of working has taken its toll on their personal and professional identity. Some did not even know that supporting their spouse's career would mean giving up their own entirely. Fortunately, this rule is about to change.

Starting May 26, many spouses of H-1B workers will be able to work legally in the U.S. Under President Obama's executive immigration order, if an H-1B worker has received approval to seek a green card, his or her spouse may work legally. For those whose partners are well into the process of obtaining permanent resident status, this is welcome news.

Unfortunately, this leaves some spouses whose partners are not approved to apply for a green card still unable to seek work. Hopefully, however it will mean a shorter waiting period.

If your spouse is working in the U.S. on an H-1B visa and you believe you are eligible to work but are not sure, speaking to an experienced immigration attorney may be wise. An immigration attorney can also help your spouse seek legal permanent resident status so you can begin working.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Tech workers' spouses ready, eager to work under new immigration rules," Lynn Thompson, April 8, 2015

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