Analyzing Save Jobs USA v. DHS: The Debate Over H-4 Visa Work Permits

Analyzing Save Jobs USA v. DHS: The Debate Over H-4 Visa Work Permits

In the ongoing legal battle of Save Jobs USA v. DHS, as reported by Britain Eakin in Law360, an organization of former IT workers challenges the H-4 visa rule that permits spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States. This case, currently under review by the D.C. Circuit, raises significant questions about the balance between protecting American jobs and supporting the families of skilled foreign workers.

Save Jobs USA's primary contention is that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) overstepped its authority by implementing the H-4 rule without explicit congressional approval. This rule, established during the Obama administration, allows approximately 179,600 noncitizens to work in its first year, with an additional 55,000 annually thereafter. The group argues that this action contradicts previous court precedents and the Immigration and Nationality Act, which does not include H-4 visa holders among those authorized to work.

The core of their argument rests on the major question doctrine, a legal principle stating that decisions of significant political and economic impact must be explicitly authorized by Congress. Save Jobs USA contends that the H-4 rule, due to its vast economic implications, requires such explicit congressional authorization.

In contrast, the DHS, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice, maintains that the rule is within its regulatory authority. The lower court, under U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, previously held that the H-4 rule is "reasonably related" to the objective of allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to accompany them to the U.S., thereby falling within the bounds of DHS's power.

This case exemplifies the ongoing debate over immigration policy and its impact on the U.S. workforce. On one hand, the H-4 rule is seen as a vital support system for the families of highly skilled foreign workers, contributing to the attraction and retention of top global talent. On the other, organizations like Save Jobs USA argue that it potentially displaces American workers and exceeds the intended scope of immigration law.

As immigration law experts, our firm closely follows such cases, understanding their profound implications for both U.S. workers and the immigrant community. For potential clients, particularly those on H-1B visas or their spouses on H-4 visas, this case is of particular relevance, as it could significantly impact their ability to work and live in the United States.

The resolution of Save Jobs USA v. DHS will not only impact the lives of thousands of H-4 visa holders but also set a precedent for how far the DHS can extend its regulatory authority in immigration matters. It highlights the ongoing tension between protecting domestic labor markets and fostering an inclusive approach to skilled foreign workers and their families.

In conclusion, Save Jobs USA v. DHS is a pivotal case at the intersection of immigration policy and labor rights. As experienced immigration attorneys, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the most current and comprehensive legal advice, navigating these complex and evolving legal landscapes.


Britain Eakin, "Ex-IT Workers Say Precedent Can't Save Spouse Work Permits", Law360, January 4, 2024.

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