NRI Pulse


H4 work ban could negatively impact families & businesses, say researchers

Atlanta, GA: Under Trump’s administration, USCIS is planning to reverse the 2015 final rule that granted eligibility and work permits for spouses of high skilled (H1-B visa) workers. The ban is likely to push 100,000 people out of jobs and negatively affect the visa holders, their families and their employers, according to a new research study.

Researchers Pooja B. Vijayakumar (Doctoral student, Kemmy Business School,Limerick,Ireland) and Dr. Christopher J. L. Cunningham (I-O Psychology Graduate Program Coordinator, UC Foundation Professor, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,USA) found that such spousal work restrictions ultimately affect the overall life satisfaction of the workers and their families.

This statistically supported finding was corroborated by the qualitative responses participants provided to an open-ended portion to the research in which participants were asked to explain the complications in their nonwork/personal life due to visa restrictions. From these qualitative data, these researchers identified six challenges faced by spouses of high skilled workers including frustration, boredom, social isolation, loss of respect/ low confidence, domestic tension and financial issues.

Pooja B. Vijayakumar

Vijayakumar and Cunningham are concerned that policy changes like the one being considered for America are often made in the absence of complete information that might help policy makers better understand the true breadth of likely consequences. The data for the present study were collected in the year 2014, a time when dependent spouse of H-1B workers were similarly not allowed to work.

These researchers anticipate the situation that may develop in coming months will be more critical and difficult for high skilled workers’ families than what was experienced in 2014, as many of these individuals who were temporarily benefited by the previous presidential administration’s immigration policies may have, in this time, bought a home or started their own businesses.

These major life events may soon have to be reversed or undone in some way if spousal work permits are cancelled. It is also important to note that the unpredictability of these impending changes will not only cause financial strain, but is already also causing psychological burden on families, particularly the spouses of expatriates in these families. Furthermore, cancelling work permits for spouses could negatively affect business operations for major IT companies.

These researchers hope that sharing this research, which has recently been highlighted by Bloomberg, Press Trust of India, Mercury news and covered by WION news channel in India, can encourage policy makers to more fully consider the implications of visa-related policy changes on high skilled workers’ spouses, families, employing organizations and broader communities.

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