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A New Beginning?

The ‘Dependent’ Indian Women in the US

What about the dependent Indian women on H4 visa who accompany the H1B visa holders to the United States? The H4 visa has disempowered the dependents in many ways—kept them outside the labour market, with their legal and financial status tied to that of their spouses’ immigration status.

Every other day, the Indian media carries news on the H1B visa—granted by the United States (US)to highly-skilled workers employed in specialised fields such as science and technology—tracking the number of visa applicants, the cap for the oncoming cycle, trials of the Indian industries particularly the information technology (IT) sector, and challenges of the workforce and so on. The attention is probably well-deserved. After all Indians form the largest proportion of foreign workers living on H1B visa in the US. In the 2015 fiscal year alone, 69% of the total 1,72,748 H1B visas were granted to Indians, numbers that have been increasing in the past few years.

Yet ironically, while the H1B visa has become a matter of “national interest” capturing diplomatic attention and academic interest, little is known about the dependents (on H4 visa) who accompany the H1B visa holders each year. This, despite the fact that Indians form the highest proportion of H4 visa holders, a segment that has also increased rather steeply like the H1B in the past decade. Eighty-two percent of the total 1,24,484 H4 visas issued in 2015 fiscal year were given to Indian dependents.

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Updated On : 17th Jan, 2017

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