Amidst the uncertainty as to whether the Department of Justice will defend the H-4 Employment Authorization Rule issued by DHS in 2015, Immigration Voice took action to protect its members.

We filed a motion to intervene on behalf of thousands of our members who currently possess employment authorization as spouses of H-1B visa holders (H-4 dependent spouses) who have filed for lawful permanent residence. The name of the case at issue is Save Jobs USA v. United States Department of Homeland Security, Case No. 16-5287 (D.C. Circuit).

On February 25, 2015, the Obama Administration issued a rule through the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) allowing certain spouses of H-1B high-skilled visa-holders to work in the United States while the H-1B visa holder awaits the receipt of his/her lawful permanent residency card (green card). This rule is critically important to allow both parents in families to work and provide for their loved ones together in the United States rather than being separated in two different countries during what is often over a decade long wait for a green card. Upon receiving their work authorization, many H-4 dependent spouses have started businesses, thereby creating jobs for U.S. citizens and residents.

Almost immediately after this rule was issued, a group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia arguing that the Obama administration lacked the authority to issue work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders. The District Court granted summary judgment to DHS, holding that Save Jobs USA lacked standing to sue and upholding the rule.

Save Jobs USA filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After Save Jobs USA filed its initial brief last month, the Department of Justice surprisingly filed a document on February 1, 2017 entitled “Consent Motion to Hold Proceedings in Abeyance for 60 Days.”

Instead of filing the brief it was supposed to file on February 10, 2017 that would defend the District Court’s decision on standing and on the merits, the Government asked for a 60-day pause in the case to “allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues.” This is especially concerning to Immigration Voice because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when he was a United States Senator, called the H-4 Rule a “change [in] immigration law in a way that hurts American workers,” even though this rule has actually allowed many H-4 visa holders, including named intervenors, the ability to start businesses in the United States that employ American workers that would otherwise not have jobs if the Rule had not been promulgated. Immigration Voice decided that intervention in the Save Jobs lawsuit was the only option to protect the rights of our members and their families, including children who are US citizens.