Mandate putting H-4 spouses out of work to be suspended

The administration of President Joe Biden will suspend a requirement that spouses of H-1B visa holders get fingerprinted to renew their visas and work permits after many on the spousal visa were thrown out of work because government fingerprinting services are heavily backlogged, according to a new report.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would suspend the biometric-collection mandate for H-4 visa holders starting May 17, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing an agency court filing in a federal court lawsuit over fingerprinting delays.

The fingerprinting rule was imposed in 2019 under the administration of former President Donald Trump, which had for years threatened to strip the right to employment from H-4 visa holders allowed to work because their spouses were on the H-1B — a visa intended for skilled workers and widely used in Silicon Valley — and on track for a green card.

An estimated 100,000 H-4 holders, the vast majority of them Indian women and many in the Bay Area working for technology firms, have the employment authorization. Google has publicly supported the employment program and called for an end to the fingerprinting delays.

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