The Trump administration has sought 60 days from a US appeals court to "consider" its response in a case challenging Obama government's decision to allow spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US, putting the jobs of thousands of Indians at stake.
The H1-B community, which includes a large number of Indians, had welcomed the move by the Barack Obama administration in 2015 to allow H4 visa-holders – mainly spouses of the H-1B visa-holders – to be gainfully employed.
But the group 'Save Jobs USA' soon took the matter to the Washington DC appeals court after a district court upheld the Obama administration's decision.
Now, the Trump administration has sought a 60-day suspension in the appeals court proceedings. On February 1, the Department of Justice filed a petition in the court titled 'Consent motion to hold proceedings in abeyance for 60 days'.
The Trump administration sought the freeze to "allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues".
The "abeyance" in court proceedings has led to concern among H4 visa holders, particularly as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a known critic of the H1B programme.
Immigration Voice yesterday announced to intervene in the case for thousands of H4 visa-holders, saying this was the "only option" to protect the rights of its members and their families, including children who are US citizens.
The recent statements from the US government present "an unacceptable risk" for Immigration Voice members that the DoJ might decide after 60 days to against the H4 visa holders.
"There is nothing for the Department of Justice attorneys to confer with their leadership about given the District Court's clear decision stating that this case had no basis for ever being filed," said Aman Kapoor, co-founder of the group.
Sudarshana Sengupta, one of the petitioners, said she has been involved in bio-medical research for the past 13 years in the country, initially as a J2 dependent (work authorisation) and later on H-1B visa.
"In August 2015, I decided to use H4-EAD work authorisation to continue my research…," Sengupta said, adding that if the H4-EAD is taken away she will not be able to launch her start-up on developing cancer immunotherapy strategies.
Another intervenor Anuj Dhamija, who has been legally working in the US since 2010 as a project manager for a reputed 'Fortune 100' firm, said due to the long wait to get a green card, he switched to the H4-EAD programme as it was the only option for him to pursue his business venture.
"On this programme, I was able to keep my existing job and also start up my small high-end luxurious home remodelling business," he said.
"I expected to create 5-10 new American jobs in the construction industry. If this programme ceased to exist, I will lose all my investment in the new business and also my job as there will be no other legal option for me to work in the USA," Dhamija said.