Tag Archives: Green cards

H4-EAD Back on Track!

There’s great news ahead for people who lost the right to work when their H4 visa work permits were revoked by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2017.

On Tuesday, January 26, the Biden administration rolled back a Trump-era ban that prevented H4-EAD visa holders – many of them women of color – from working  in the US.

The DHS withdrew its proposal to rescind H‑4 work authorizations which means more than 100,000 H‑4 EAD recipients will keep their right to work.

The work permit, originally introduced by the Obama administration, was issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouses and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders,  many of whom hold tech sector jobs.

The provision allowed dependent spouses to work, so families awaiting a transition to permanent residency did not have to struggle to survive on a single income.

The USCIS reported that 98% of H4 visa holders were from Asian countries – with 93% of approved applications for H-4 employment authorization issued to individuals of Indian origin, many of whom are highly skilled women in STEM professions.

When the EAD was revoked under the Trump administration it disenfranchised women from the South Asian community and put them at at-risk. Immigration advocates reported that losing the H-4 status had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of dependent spouses (overwhelmingly women).

Opponents said the rescission was forcing women into a cycle of dependency and depression. In online support groups women reported mental health issues, marital problems and domestic abuse from the loss of financial security, as seen in this video testimonial from a community member called Neha.

 

Immigration advocacy group SAALT reports that despite the hopeful news, it “continues to hear from community members who have been adversely impacted by significant delays in the processing of H‑4 work authorization documents.”

“These people must be protected, and the Biden administration must unilaterally extend the validity period of all expired H‑4 EADs and resolve USCIS processing delays,” SAALT added in their statement.

According to congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, the “months-long backlog created by changes made during the Trump Administration have created economic challenges for women, their families, and the communities in which they live.”

A letter signed by 60 members of Congress in December 2020 to then president-elect Biden, urged the immediate extension of H‑4 EAD expiration dates.

“We respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security publish a Federal Register notice on day one of your administration that would extend the validity period of all expired H4 EADs,” the members of Congress wrote. “In 2015…the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule allowing certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally seek employment in the US. This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in our immigration system, as around 95% of H4 visa holders who have secured work authorizations are women. Before the rule was granted, many women on H4 visas described depression and isolation in moving to a new country and not being allowed to work outside of the home. Unfortunately, these women are losing and will continue to lose their jobs until this is put right, disrupting the lives of their families and the functioning of employers in our districts.”

It’s hoped these extensions will be included in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, in which President Biden has pledged to reform U.S. immigration and “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system.”

The bill plans a sweeping policy and regulatory overhaul to modernize a broken U.S. immigration system that will cover formalizing H-4EAD work authorizations, creating pathways to citizenship for undocumented individuals, essential workers  and individuals with temporary status, and resolving backlogs to increase the efficiency of employment-based immigrant processes.

SAALT said the move to preserve the program “signals the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting immigrant women workers who play an essential role as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. They called it  “a long overdue moment of hope for immigration policy.”


Meera Kymal is the Contributing Editor at India Currents
video clip: courtesy SAALT
Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Ask a Lawyer – When Aging Parents Need Help With Legal Affairs

If you immigrated to America and have aging parents in India, you are facing a common dilemma – how to help parents who are increasingly unable to manage their own affairs. These complicated situations could happen unexpectedly, so be prepared in advance to face questions like these:

How do I manage the property or assets of an elderly parent impaired by illness, typically, stroke or dementia?

How do I arrange funds for healthcare? I find it difficult to transfer money between India and the U.S.

What do I do about making critical healthcare decisions like putting my parents on a ventilator or proceeding with surgery ?

What You Need to Do in India

Create a Joint Account

  •  Ensure that all bank accounts and other property holdings of your parents are joint, with the ability to sign in a “either or survivor” capacity. This also applies to safety deposit boxes. 
  • Frequently, these are held jointly by two parents to begin with, and then become singly-held upon one of them passing. It is helpful to have an additional holder who is fully functional at all times.

Establish Nominees and Power of Attorney

  • Appoint a nominee for each account, so that someone can access the accounts if the main account holder passes away.
  • Prepare a power of attorney and if possible submit it with the bank. This will allow the person with the power of attorney to operate the accounts, investments or safety deposit boxes.
  • Check with the bank to find out if they accept a power of attorney for the account in question what language needs to be used.
  • Ensure that there is a general power of attorney allowing someone to handle the parent’s affairs, including matters relating to real estate (which may require specific power of attorney – please check with a lawyer).  This way, sales of houses and other property are easier to manage.
  • Banks in India have their own rules and restrictions about who can be a signatory, or nominee or a power of attorney holder on an account, so consult with senior bankers or finance planners.

Prepare a ‘Valid’ Will and a Living Will

  • Make sure that there is a valid will which clarifies the property division. Also, investigate the possibility of having a “living will” which specifies the person’s wishes in terms of their health care.

Keep Visas Current

  • Ensure that the parent living in India has a valid visa to travel to the United States should the need arise.  
  • More importantly, make sure that you, a US resident, who might have to travel to India suddenly, have a valid visa at all times. 
  • If you have recently obtained US citizenship, please apply for an Indian visa on an expedited basis.

Access to Cash Flow

  • Ensure that there is access to cash flow, since Indian hospitals often need significant advance payments. 
  • Check with your banks here in the US and in India about money transfers and ensure you have processes in place should the need arise. 

Tax Implications

  • There may be tax implications in the US with having your name on bank accounts or other investments in India. You may be required to file tax returns in India. Please talk to a tax advisor or accountant in both places.
  • It’s good practice to consult with a lawyer, especially with respect to estate planning and wills.
  • In certain circumstances, it may make sense to get advice from estate planning experts, both in India and in the US. Tax considerations and implications on cross border assets can be complex and extensive.

 

What You Need to Do in the U.S.

Bank Accounts

  •  Ensure that there are multiple signatories on bank accounts, investments accounts, safety deposit boxes etc. who can sign individually (not jointly). 
  •  If, for any reason, this is not possible, provide a power of attorney to a trustworthy person, who can operate accounts and manage assets should the person become incapacitated.

Prepare the following Wills and Establish Power of Attorney

  • A will (which provides for a division of assets upon passing) 
  • A living will, which specifies who is in charge of medical care and decision making should the patient be incapable of making decisions and also provides guidance on the patient’s care preferences, such as the extent to which life support can be used 
  • Seek advice from asset planning professionals, accountants and attorneys, both, for the parent as well as the child/caregiver. The will and other documents may need to be structured in very specific ways.
  • Power of attorney, which provides power to another person to manage the affairs even within their lifetime, should they become incapacitated).  
  • File the power of attorney with a bank so that there are no complications at the time of usage.  

Tax Implications

  • There are several tax disclosure and payment requirements in the US. The US taxes its residents on their worldwide income and needs declarations of their assets worldwide. Please take this into consideration and consult a tax professional for advice.

 

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Individual circumstances differ for everyone. It is always advisable to get professional advice specifically suited to your circumstances.

Svati Kania Shashank is a lawyer practicing in New York for over 20 years. 

Edited by India Currents Contributing Editor, Meera Kymal

 

Why EB-5 is the Best Solution for Your H-1B Woes

In the United States, workers from India comprise the largest number of H-1B professionals.

But, in the wake of US policy changes on immigration, Indians have been hit the hardest, putting their eligibility and professional dreams at severe risk.

In a recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy it was shown that in 2017 72% of the H-1B petitions denied were for professionals from India. What’s larger, however, is the emotional hardships families have had to bear from these denials. Ashish Kumar, a software engineer from Indore, has a particularly apt story. In 2014, Ashish and his family moved to upstate New York from India for work. Four years later, his family had completely acclimatized to America, with hopes of permanent residency. His son, who upon arrival, barely spoke English, now spoke indistinguishably from other American children. Even more, his wife, six months pregnant, had the hope of raising another child in America. In early September, Ashish and his family received the shocking news that their H-1B had not been renewed. They were given two weeks to pack all their belongings and relocate back to India.

Ashish’s plight is shared with many other families. These families become completely immersed in American culture. Some even have American born children. For them, America is home.  

While some professionals may be eligible for employment based green cards (EB-2 and EB-3), these visas can be restrictive. Wait times are severely backlogged from 10 to 15 years. To make matters worse, employer sponsorship does not assure green card approval and prevents the candidate from moving cities.

With such massive uncertainty, is there a better solution?

The EB-5 Investor Visa is one such opportunity, giving Indian citizens the chance to earn permanent residency through capital investment. Unlike EB-2 and EB-3, there is no severe backlog. Even more, EB-5 does not:

  • Require employer sponsorship
  • Depend on a lottery system
  • Have long wait times for family sponsorship

Instead, it gives Indian citizens a chance to build a future by working and living anywhere in the US, with the added opportunity to earn US citizenship.

On, November 9th at 2PM EST US Freedom Capital will be hosting a webinar to discuss the ins and outs of the EB-5 Investor Visa. CIO, David Gunderson, will discuss the process, timelines, and successes of our own H-1B clients who have received their green cards in as little as 14 months. In addition, we will have a Q&A session after the webinar to discuss any specific questions/comments from the audience.

To register please click here https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8199200439262243339

 

About US Freedom Capital

US Freedom Capital is a global investment firm committed to the long-term growth and security of its investors’ assets. Our investment projects are thoughtfully designed for the EB-5 Program and to create diversified, high-yield returns.
The US Freedom Capital team combines decades of experience in commercial US real estate, immigration, and investment management. Our industry experts have over $3 billion in commercial real estate experience, and include the three former highest-ranking officials at US Immigration (USCIS).