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Changes to H-1B & H-4 Visas May Harm San Diego Economy

The misguided protectionist stance of the Trump administration could mean significant socioeconomic changes for San Diego, particularly in terms of its technology sector. Recently proposed revisions to the rules that govern the issuance of H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B visa recipients—who are already facing certain challenges related to their legal status in the country—may cause an exodus of skilled foreign workers from San Diego and across the Golden State.

According to a recent report published by the Voice of San Diego, the elimination of the H-4 visa could prompt dispirited H-1B visa holders to give up on trying to adjust their status in the United States. The H-4 visa is granted to the spouses of H-1B workers for the purpose of finding employment while they wait for their green card applications to be approved. This program dates back to 2015, when former President Barack Obama approved this special visa after considering certain factors such as: 

  • The salaries of H-1B visa workers are often not sufficient in American cities such as San Diego, where the cost of living tends to be higher. 
  • Similar to their spouses, H-4 visa recipients tend to be skilled workers who can fill jobs that are critically needed in their communities and who can strengthen local economies. 
  • Working spouses are a sign of socioeconomic stability in the communities where they settle. These are the types of immigrants who can contribute to the prosperity of the U.S. 

Currently, one-fifth of all H-1B visa recipients work in California. Since President Trump took office in 2017, these foreign workers have been facing obstacles in terms of holding on to their visas. Because their spouses might be denied work permits, H-1B workers may become disillusioned to the point of packing their bags. This situation is of concern to San Diego tech firms such as Qualcomm, a semiconductor manufacturer that employs quite a few H-1B workers. Other tech giants considering expansion in San Diego may scale down their plans if they cannot meet employee quotas. Local companies are increasingly apprehensive about these changes in policies, which could cause their employees to have to spend time and money seeking attorneys who offer U.S. citizenship and immigration services. San Diego is home to many skilled immigrant workers who are vital to the city’s economic health.

The problem with the protectionism being practiced by the Trump administration is that it largely ignores economic impact. The simplistic argument is that granting fewer H-1B and H-4 visas will create job opportunities for U.S. citizens, but this doesn’t take into account that those jobs are often highly skilled positions that don’t necessarily pay exorbitant salaries. In many cases, H-1B jobs aren’t filled by Americans because U.S citizens don’t want to take them. 

H-1B and H-4 visa holders shouldn’t impulsively abandon their efforts to work and live in the U.S., at least not until consulting with an immigration law firm about adjusting their status. In some cases, legal strategies are available, such as submitting an EB-5 visa if wealthy relatives are willing to help in this regard.

If you need more information about H-1B & H-4 visas, make sure to look for attorneys who are experts in family-based immigration. San Diego residents deserve the best legal advice they can get. KS Visa Law specializes in a variety of areas, including family and employment immigration. Call 858-874-0711 today to schedule an appointment.

May 2024