Finally some light at the end of the tunnel!!!!!!!!!!

This must be the happiest day ever for lots of people out there!

There is finally a date for the rule that allows some H-4 visa holders to work to become effective: May 26 2015!!!!

In a post released today the DHS made the following announcement:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.” in http://www.uscis.gov/news/dhs-extends-eligibility-employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses-h-1b-nonimmigrants-seeking-employment-based-lawful-permanent-residence

Not everyone on an H-4 will be able to work though. There are some restrictions.

“Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker;
or
Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.”

The post goes on to explain the reasoning behind the authorization: “DHS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society. As such, the change should reduce certain disincentives that currently lead H-1B nonimmigrants to abandon efforts to remain in the United States while seeking lawful permanent residence, which will minimize disruptions to U.S. businesses employing them. The change should also support the U.S. economy because the contributions H-1B nonimmigrants make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation. The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.”

We all just want to have a normal life (normal to our own standards), as well as be able to contribute to a better society and economy with our skills and knowledge. Hopefully some of us will be able to do so very soon!

It’s a great day! I’ll certainly be celebrating will my fellow H-4 friends and family today!
Hurray!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone who made this possible! =)

Happy New Year!

2014 was the year that brought immigration reform to the table again and thousands of people have been actively trying to make this reform happen, for different reasons.
H-4 visa holders are just some of the people looking forward to the reform, but because it’s a hot issue, and one that brings so much debate, it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.

There is some hope for H-4 visa holders though, as a rule has been proposed by the DHS (http://www.dhs.gov/news/2014/05/06/dhs-announces-proposals-attract-and-retain-highly-skilled-immigrants) that would allow certain H4s to work. We just need a date now. Please President Obama, make this happen!

There is no better way then to start a New Year with hope, so here’s to hoping that the rule will happen early this year and therefore give some of us the opportunity to become self-reliant and independent again!

Happy New Year!

The better and invisible half of Silicon Valley?

It’s not uncommon to hear business professionals say that their spouse was or is often a big part of the decision making process in closing a big deal, or even that without their spouse’s support they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did.
In Silicon Valley this takes a whole different dimension. By it’s own entrepreneurial nature, SV is packed with creative, innovative people and thousands of engineers, designers and managers are attracted to this place as moths are attracted to light.
Yet, I wonder if SV would be what it is today if thousands of spouses were not willing to leave everything behind (career, family, friends) to join and support their loved ones.
Every year in October SV gets new blood. Companies bring brilliant people from all over the world to work for them on a Visa called H1-B. With many, if not most, of these brains come their families, who get a dependent visa called H-4. This H-4 visa does not allow the families to work. I have met quite a few of the spouses who decided to move with their H1-B spouse and they are consistently also brilliant minds in their own right. Dentists, medical doctors, lawyers, designers, software engineers, teachers, managers, scientists. Mostly women.
I often wonder what would these companies do if the spouses had said “No, I’m not willing to leave everything behind, you have to decline the job offer to work in the US” (and as most of you know, whatever the lady says goes, right? ;p)
The H1-B is a temporary non-immigrant visa, which means you can only stay here (the US) for a certain period of time. Usually it expires after 3 years and it can be renewed for another 3. After that workers need to go back home. So, worst-case scenario H-4s would be jobless for 6 years. 6 years without a job is a loooong time.
Sure there are all sorts of things you can do during this time to boost and use your skills. Study, volunteer, start or look after your family, travel, meet people, whatever. But not having a job can be quite baffling. Most people start a conversation by asking you what you do. They usually mean what’s your job or field of expertise. What is one to say when one doesn’t have a job, specially when it’s not by choice? I still struggle to answer that question and to be perfectly honest I don’t like being jobless, so I feel a bit angry when I have to answer that question. I really don’t know what to say, because I want to make it short, but I find that a short answer doesn’t usually do. So I have to explain that I am not allowed to work because my husband got this visa, and I got a dependent visa, bla bla bla. People seem confused with the “I’m not allowed to work” part and ask “why?” and then again I don’t know what to say, because I can’t give the answer I really want to give (I try not to be rude and show my frustration; not always successful though), so I explain that it’s because of the immigration laws. They look even more perplexed. I don’t think anyone even ever thought that someone could be forbidden to provide for themselves and their family. I didn’t know this existed until my husband told me he had a job offer and he told me the “but” part of it. I was dumbfounded! The first thing that came to my mind was “I’m not going”. I told him to go, but I would stay in Europe.
Life is filled with twists and turns and I ended up joining my husband when he moved to SV. I could see that this was a unique opportunity and that it meant the world to him. I studied translation, and I can work from anywhere. Yet, in his case, SV is the place to be. The big jobs and companies are here and therefore so must you if you want to do something significant if your degree and skills. My husband is really good at what he does and he loves it. He is hardworking, intelligent and he thrives in challenging projects. I had to back him up on this.
It has been difficult at times to adjust to the new life and it feels unfair that H-4s are not allowed to work, but I don’t regret my decision. I hope the immigration laws change someday and that in the future H1-B spouses can also contribute with their skills in the job market. We already do contribute for the success of the Valley, we just do it in a sort of invisible way – by supporting our spouse’s career and being there for them. The best way we, on H-4 visa, can do this is by being willing “to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us” (Joseph Campbell).

DHS proposes rule to allow certain H-4s to work

Here is something that, if it happens, will change a lot of people’s lives for the better: employment authorization to certain H-4 spouses.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to extend the availability of employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants. The extension would be limited to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment. This population will include those H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants if the H-1B nonimmigrants are either the beneficiaries of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or who have been granted an extension of their authorized period of admission in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21), as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. This regulatory change would lessen any potential economic burden to the H-1B principal and H-4 dependent spouse during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, furthering the goals of attracting and retaining high-skilled foreign workers.” Taken from http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USCIS-2010-0017-0001

I still don’t understand why not allow everyone to be able to work, I can’t even imagine that it is legal to *forbid* someone from having an income and providing for themselves, but this would be better than the way it is now.

So I ask all of the H1Bs and H-4s out there, leave your comment and explain why you think this needs to change, and how H-4s would be an asset not a problem for the american companies and economy.

The time period to leave a comment is ending soon. Do it now, before you miss the change to make yourselves heard.

A big *thank you* to the DHS for allowing people to have a say in this!

Age range of people on H4 visa

I’m trying to understand the age range of H4s, please vote so we can get a clear idea of this.

“I’m sorry, I can’t accept your offer.”

Yet again I have had to refuse a translation/interpretation job (I translate from English to Portuguese) because of my Visa situation.

These companies are service providers and don’t sponsor work visas, so every time I get contacted to do a job that would not take a job from an american, I have to refuse. And this is why the H4 is ridiculous and annoying.

H4s are not allowed to work remotely, do internships or anything slightly similar to getting paid. We are allowed to do volunteer work with not for profit organizations only. We are simply not allowed to have income of our own. Why would anyone think of creating such a law is beyond me, but such a law exists in the US.

Immigration reform is needed urgently.

Immigration Reform

Not having a job (due to my Visa situation) leaves me with an awful lot of time on my hands. Fortunately I have found ways of staying busy. Actually, I have been so busy lately I haven’t had much time to think about this depressing and unfair H4 Visa. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying my best to change my situation.

In the past months I have encouraged other H4 spouses to write to their Representatives. I have both called and written to a few of the representatives in California asking them to help pass the Immigration Bill and helps us out of this H4 prison.

I have attended talks and conferences regarding immigration issues and reform. In one of these talks organised by the Bipartisan Policy Center I was even able to personally talk to former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice, Cisneros and Chertoff about the H4 Visa situation and how important it is for us that this Immigration Bill passes. Again, I urged them to help pass the Immigration Bill.

I have attended and volunteered at FWD.us events and became familiarised with other also urgent immigration issues that the Immigration Bill would solve if passed.

I can not predict how the Immigration debate will turn out and if the Bill will be passed or if, on the contrary, it will be ignored again, but I would like to think that everyone will help out by calling Representatives, signing petitions, using social media, whatever they can use to bring the immigration issue to the table. Let’s not just seat and wait for a miracle to happen. This is a great place to start: http://www.fwd.us/action