Should the US issue dependant visa holders work authorization?

I found this article on It covers important topics, such as protection for victims of violence, and some readers have left interesting comments.

The last sentence is worth flagging as I find the discrepencies between an L2 being able to work, but not an H4, confusing:

Allowing the L2 and E2 category to work didn’t create any marked increase in the unemployment rate among US Citizens.”

What do you think? As H4 visa holders have we traded our right to gainful employment for the experience of living in America with our spouses? Or are we really victims of abuse?

“All these years the United States of America denied work-permits to
dependant visa holders with one simple explanation “You are in USA
because Your Spouse is allowed to work here”. But numerous surveys by
different social organizations has thrown light on the darker sides of
the life of dependant visa holders.

The dependant visa holder has to forgo his/her career growth in-order
to stay with the spouse. This causes  a big gap in the career and
finding a suitable job in the home country becomes difficult when the
principal visa holder has to leave USA and return to the home country.

If the dependant visa holder’s field of study or work is, one in which
getting a sponsorship from an employer is difficult, getting a
work-visa is almost impossible. He/she even loses his/her hard-earned
skills in the respective fields due to the large gap in career. Even
though volunteering is possible, most of the volunteer jobs might not
utilize the persons skills.

Studying in the USA is good option but, being a single income family,
it will affect the financial status of the family if other members of
the family (children) are studying.

90 percent of dependant visa holders are women. Women being, more
susceptible to domestic violence by the partner, becomes even more
prone to violence due to her complete dependence on the Spouse. They
become prisoners in USA due to the spousal abuse and immigration
policies that give their husbands complete control over their lives.

The immigrant Women get protection under VAWA but non-immigrants are
not covered. Even if a law to let the non-immigrant battered women to
obtain work permit is introduced, It might not protect women whose
cases dismissed as non-critical. The abuser can further exert his
control over the victim and convince her that he has changed so that
the victim might not press charges against him. Thus the abuser gets
encouraged to continue violence.

Divorce is not an option because most non-immigrants come from third
world countries where a divorced women has to bear the social stigma of
divorce and will not be protected in her own home country.

Because of the long queues for Labor certification application and
retrogression of visa numbers, getting an EAD and Green Card takes

Most European countries issue work permits to the spouses. Also the
time taken for permanent residency is lesser. In USA L2 and E2 visa
holders can have work permit, but the other categories are ignored.

Fear of flooding the labor market is not a valid reason to deny the
dependant visa holders work permit. Allowing the L2 and E2 category to
work didn’t create any marked increase in the unemployment rate among
US Citizens.”

Read the US Citizenship and Immigration Services definition of the Violence Against Women Act

Read the original article and comments from


2 thoughts on “Should the US issue dependant visa holders work authorization?

  1. This blog is great. Thanks for sharing.
    I guess (hope?) that most policymakers would agree that H4s should be able to work, they simply do not have the motivation to change the policy. H4s do not vote, they are a minority, and they are not causing any problems…
    …Maybe the best “lobbying strategy” would be to focus on the H1B’s decision. Is the US missing out on attracting international talent because their spouses will not be able to work? ..I suspect this is how L2s gained their authorization – companies wanted to move professionals to the US, and they were resistant because their spouse would not be able to work, so the companies lobbied to change the policy.
    F2s (student spouse) are the ones most in need of work authorisation, and the least likely to gain it.

    • Thanks very much for the comment Meg and I’m glad you find it interesting. Be sure to read my post on the special BBC report into families living overseas – some very interesting points, and I’m very pleased that an organisation like the BBC has picked it up. Thanks again for reading x

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