Immigrants to relocate to the United States often seek to remain in the nation with their family members who traveled with them to the country or who later joined them. In order to accomplish this, immigrants seek to obtain employment. Because some immigrants are unable to enter the country through the proper legal channels, this could make it difficult to obtain or maintain a job. Even if the proper paperwork is filled out, it could still be challenging to work in the field of expertise the immigrant has due to competition.
Recently, H-1B visas were given to immigrants experienced in the fields of engineering, computer science and other fields requiring a specialized skill set. The spouses of these immigrants were allowed to come with them to the United States, but they were not permitted to work in the country. According to the Obama administration, this situation is about to change. If all goes well, some of these spouses will be given work visas and allowed to work in the U.S.
Technology companies have been supportive of the increase in distribution of H-1B visas to encourage employment immigration. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, also founded a group to promote immigration reform. In order to obtain permanent residence based on employment, an employer must obtain a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. The employer must then petition on behalf of the foreign national. The foreign national will then apply to the immigration service for Lawful Permanent Resident status. Workers will be separated into different categories based on education and level of experience.
By allowing spouses of immigrants to work, the government hopes to encourage immigrants trained in highly-skilled fields to continue to live in the United States and support the U.S. economy for a long period of time. In order for the U.S. to remain competitive with other countries, the U.S. will have to attract as many skilled workers from other countries as possible.
The Obama Administration also plans to focus on updating regulations to give certain visa holders waiting for an extension a broader number of authorized work days. While immigration reform is still not progressing in the House, President Obama is doing whatever he can to push it forward.
Immigrants seeking to obtain employment for themselves, a spouse or family member should understand their options and how this situation could benefit them in the future. Gaining legal advice could help them file the necessary paperwork and provide them with a realistic timeline and future options.
Source: The Washington Post, "Obama administration will let spouses of some on immigrant work visas get jobs", Katie Zezima, May 6, 2014