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April 07, 2022

Congresswomen Bourdeaux, Salazar Introduces Bipartisan Immigration Legislation To Support Local Economies & Families

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswomen Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07) and Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27) introduced the bipartisan H-4 Work Authorization Act to address the national labor shortage affecting American businesses while helping immigrant families thrive together. The bill would allow H-4 visa holders to be automatically granted their work authorization without needing to submit a “Form I-765, Employment Authorization Document (EAD),” which can take years to be approved. 

“Right now, the spouses of highly-skilled immigrants have to fight through years of bureaucratic red tape before they are allowed to work in the United States,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux. “This bill removes these needless barriers to ensure families can contribute and prosper together. If we are going to continue to be competitive and attract the greatest minds and talent around the world, we must ensure that the family members of high-value immigrants are able to build a life and a career in the United States, just like everyone else.”

“I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan H-4 Work Authorization Act,” said Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar. “This policy will help Miami and the United States maximize our entrepreneurial spirit and continue leading in job creation, innovation, research and development, and economic growth by meeting critical labor market needs.”

The H-4 Work Authorization Act changes current law to allow the spouses of H-1B immigrants to automatically be granted work authorization upon receiving their H-4 visa. This would remove the requirement for visa holders to apply for a Form I-765, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

This legislation hopes to fill America’s labor gap and allow these visa holders to quickly work and provide for their families. It could also help to reduce the backlog of work authorization applications at USCIS by providing immediate work authorization to H-4 visa holders and reducing the number of work authorizations USCIS must process.

H-4 visas are issued to dependent spouses and children who accompany H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the United States. Many H-4 visa holders are highly skilled people in their own right and previously had careers of their own or worked to support their families. 

Currently, H-4 visa holders must apply for work authorization and wait for it to be processed before they can work, even though they are already in the United States and their spouse is working in the United States. Due to backlogs at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applications for work authorization can take anywhere from six to eight months, with some applications taking over one year to be approved.  

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Immigration Forum and UnidosUs.

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Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux lives with her family in Suwanee, Georgia, and represents Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the 117th Congress. Carolyn is a strong advocate for affordable health care, and economic recovery that puts workers and small businesses first, and investing in her district’s world-class public education system and transportation infrastructure. 

Georgia’s fast-changing 7th Congressional District includes portions of the northeast Atlanta metropolitan area, including portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties and cities Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lake, Sugar Hill, Norcross, Cumming, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Snellville, Lilburn, Suwanee, Grayson, and Buford.