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306. Is the H4 visa really a curse? I don’t think so.

March 15, 2013

A lot is said about the H4 visa that the US embassy issues to spouses of those who have a H1B visa. The biggest grouse is that H4 visa holders cannot be gainfully employed and also cannot get certain benefits that stem from not being able to obtain a Social Security Number.  There is also an incorrect comparison with the L2 visa that spouses of L1 employees (those who are transferred) get.

To start with one has to go into the history of the policy and realize that L1 was a visa created for transfers of senior people who come for a fixed duration from other countries and since they are senior are likely to be married and therefore spouses can work, a benefit extended because the L1 visa holder cannot change jobs and is fairly senior with a spouse who could also be fairly senior. While H1B was originally created for non-citizen students to start working, the lack of skilled workers made them open it up to outsiders as well with the condition that if they are married or plan to get married their spouse cannot work by default until he or she finds a job where the H1B is made available. Remember they cannot have a 1+1 offer that would be reducing 65,000 jobs in the country – the US government  needs to protect their citizens interest first before thinking of charity.

So it’s only fair from that point. Remember the hikes L1 employee get are negligible compared to what an H1B gets especially because they can switch jobs. So the person marrying an H1B is aware of this and has the option of not moving to this country but does so willingly because of the better lifestyle and pay it offers.

People who crib about H4 being a curse are mostly Indians and that is more to do with the enterprising spirit and ambitious mindset. This country only needs medical and software professionals from outside. And if you are an H4 visa holder from these two fields getting gainful employment from an organisation which will arrange the H1B visa should not be hard unless you take the risk of investing in a high quality education here and then look for a job.

PS – I write this blog from a personal experience of being a H1B visa holder myself.

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