Update: H-4 Visa Work Ban to be Published

After months of “will they, won’t they?” speculation, the federal government has announced it will publish a long-promised rule to disallow H-4 visa holders, H-1B visa holders’ spouses who are in the process of getting a green card, the right to work.

H-4 visa holders have been able to work since 2015. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first proposed the work ban in late 2017.

The rule update came from the federal government’s unified agenda webpage stating the draft rule will be published this month.

A recent report from University of Tennesee researchers estimate that of the 100,000 spouses in the U.S. on an H-4 visa, 93% are women from India.

On the unified agenda website, DHS says U.S. workers benefit from the H-4 work prohibition “by having a better chance at obtaining jobs that some of the population of the H-4 workers currently hold.”
In February, DHS sent the rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. Current reports indicate that the rule is still awaiting approval from the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is part of the budget office. The OIRA has until June 20 to review the rule, and if approved, it could be published shortly after.
After publishing, the rule will be in the federal register and there may be a public-comment period typically lasting 30-60 days but could extend long beyond that timeframe.