UPDATE: Some H‑4s to be Eligible for Work Authorization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Feb­ru­ary 24, 2015

Con­tact: Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran

SAALT applauds the Unit­ed States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) for announcing this morn­ing that DHS will extend work autho­riza­tion, effective May 26, 2015, to some H‑4 depen­dent spous­es of H‑1B visa hold­ers who are seek­ing employ­ment-based law­ful per­ma­nent res­i­dent (LPR) sta­tus. An esti­mat­ed 179,600 H‑4 depen­dent spous­es will be eli­gi­ble to apply for employ­ment autho­riza­tion in the first year of imple­men­ta­tion, and an esti­mat­ed 55,000 H‑4 spous­es will be eli­gi­ble to apply in sub­se­quent years.

Not all H‑4 depen­dent spous­es will be eli­gi­ble to work under the new rule. 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.

Numer­ous South Asians enter the U.S. through the H‑1B visa pro­gram, and fig­ures from the State Depart­ment show that approx­i­mate­ly 76% of those who received H‑4 sta­tus in 2013 were from South Asian coun­tries. Many H‑4 depen­dent spous­es have found them­selves to be invol­un­tary home­mak­ers upon their arrival to the U.S., which not only impacts their fam­i­ly income and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, but also dimin­ish­es their abil­i­ty to expand upon pro­fes­sion­al skills.

SAALT has called on USCIS to allow all employ­ment autho­riza­tion for all H‑4 visa hold­ers, as H‑1B work­ers and their fam­i­lies are most suc­cess­ful when H‑4 visa hold­ers have the abil­i­ty to con­tribute to their house­hold income and our econ­o­my, and pur­sue their goals. Today’s announce­ment is a wel­comed first-step that will dra­mat­i­cal­ly help some fam­i­lies in the U.S., but the suc­cess of H‑1B work­ers, their fam­i­lies, and our nation’s eco­nom­ic growth is lim­it­ed when only some H‑4 visa hold­ers are eli­gi­ble for work autho­riza­tion.

SAALT on the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)

With the open­ing of the White House Sum­mit on the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism (CVE) pro­gram this week, SAALT con­tin­ues to stand in oppo­si­tion to this pro­gram. CVE is cen­tered around the prob­lem­at­ic con­cept of requir­ing Mus­lim indi­vid­u­als, insti­tu­tions, and com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions to ques­tion, spy, and report mem­bers of their own com­mu­ni­ty for alleged ter­ror­ist activ­i­ty. It is also based on the dom­i­nant and flawed nar­ra­tive of vio­lence and ter­ror­ism being patent­ly attached to Islam, which is inac­cu­rate and divi­sive. This nar­ra­tive is espe­cial­ly trou­bling in the face of grow­ing hate vio­lence in this coun­try tar­get­ed at Mus­lims, those per­ceived to be Mus­lim, and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or at large. SAALT doc­u­ment­ed many of these inci­dents, includ­ing those that are under­re­port­ed or ignored in main­stream media, in our recent report Under Sus­pi­cion, Under Attack and many more have been in the news in just the last few months. The exe­cu­tion-style mur­der of three Mus­lim stu­dents in Chapel Hill, North Car­oli­na, is the lat­est in these egre­gious attacks on Mus­lims in the Unit­ed States. It is time to have a rich­er and deep­er dis­cus­sion on the breadth of vio­lent extrem­ism in this coun­try, one that hon­ors the slew of vic­tims of domes­tic extrem­ism.

Temporary Halt to Implementation of Expanded DACA & DAPA

For imme­di­ate release | Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015

SAALT stands firm­ly against the mis­guid­ed U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge’s rul­ing to award a tem­po­rary injunc­tion on the expand­ed DACA and DAPA pro­grams. We con­tin­ue to stand with immi­grants who deserve the right to stop liv­ing in sec­ond-class sta­tus, attend col­lege, work above the table for fair wages, and be reunit­ed with their fam­i­lies. Even though there have been pre­vi­ous attempts to derail the Pres­i­den­t’s crit­i­cal exec­u­tive actions on immi­gra­tion, includ­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) fund­ing bill with amend­ments that attempt to defund the pro­grams, it is more impor­tant now than ever that the pro­grams are imple­ment­ed. While attempts to stop imple­men­ta­tion of the Pres­i­den­t’s exec­u­tive actions are large­ly sym­bol­ic and hold no merit—and we are con­fi­dent the Depart­ment of Jus­tice will suc­cess­ful­ly appeal the injunc­tion in the 5th Cir­cuit Court of Appeals—implementation of the expand­ed DACA and DAPA pro­grams will now be delayed. Mil­lions stand to ben­e­fit from expand­ed DACA and DAPA, includ­ing approx­i­mate­ly 40 per­cent of the over 500,000 undoc­u­ment­ed South Asians. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is ful­ly with­in his legal author­i­ty to imple­ment his exec­u­tive actions on immi­gra­tion, and it is essen­tial that these pro­grams be per­mit­ted to pro­ceed, espe­cial­ly due to Con­gress’ fail­ure to act on immi­gra­tion.

South Asian Dreamer Rishi Singh to Meet with President Obama

Feb­ru­ary 4, 2015

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma will be meet­ing with DREAM­ers today at the White House, includ­ing South Asian DREAM­er and DRUM — South Asian Orga­niz­ing Cen­ter Oper­a­tions & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Coor­di­na­tor Rishi Singh. You may remem­ber Rishi from SAALT’s DACA Sto­ries cam­paign, where he dis­cussed the impact that DACA has had on his life:

“Pri­or to receiv­ing DACA, I faced dai­ly bar­ri­ers of find­ing employ­ment that pays a liv­able wage. I was forced to take jobs in con­struc­tion or cater­ing, where I was paid under the table and often under-com­pen­sat­ed for my work. Hav­ing DACA sta­tus has giv­en me access to bet­ter jobs so that I can pay for school. It has also moti­vat­ed me to be a more vocal activist for undoc­u­ment­ed youth in this coun­try and con­nect­ed me to groups like DRUM-South Asian Orga­niz­ing Cen­ter, which has giv­en me a place to dis­cov­er com­mu­ni­ty, find my voice, and join in advo­ca­cy efforts for undoc­u­ment­ed youth, includ­ing immi­gra­tion reform.”

To read more sto­ries about how DACA has made a pos­i­tive impact in the lives of South Asians, please click here.