Update on work authorization for certain H-4 dependents

As mentioned in our prior post, the Trump administration was due to propose new regulations by the end of February 2018, eliminating the ability of certain H-4 dependents to work.  Although it has not yet issued proposed regulations, there is now an updated timeline for that to occur.  On September 21, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) submitted a status report in the ongoing litigation in Save Jobs USA vs. U.S. Department of Homeland Security over the regulation allowing H-4 employment.  The status report for the case, which is being held in abeyance pending the issuance of a new rule, indicated that DHS’s proposed rule will be sent to the Office of Management & Budget (“OMB”) for notice and comment within three months. 

With certain exceptions, OMB manages the rulemaking process by publishing proposed rules and collecting comments for a period of 30-60 days, or longer, before a regulation is published as a final rule and takes effect (usually 30 days after being published as a final rule).  Therefore, even if a proposed regulation is issued in or before December 2018, work authorization for current H-4 work permit holders may continue for some time.  Further, DHS has not indicated how the program would be phased out.  If the eventual proposed rule follows the same model as the phase-out of the DACA program, existing H-4 work permits would not be revoked, and would simply be unrenewable or otherwise not available after a specified deadline.  

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018