A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled in favor of the government in a lawsuit that challenged an Obama-era rule that allows some H-4 spouses to apply for employment authorization documents.

Key Points:

  • In 2015, a group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit challenging the H-4 employment authorization rule, saying the Department of Homeland Security lacked authority to allow H-4 spouses to work in the United States, among other claims. The district court dismissed the case in 2016, but in 2019 an appeals court allowed the case to move forward and sent it back to the district court.
  • The litigation was put on hold while the Trump administration considered whether to rescind the regulation. After the Biden administration took office, the parties filed motions for summary judgment that have been pending since 2021.
  • On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an opinion upholding the rule, citing the executive branch’s “longstanding and open responsibility for authorizing employment” for visa holders.
  • Leading companies and business organizations had filed an amicus brief in the case supporting the H-4 rule, saying eliminating H-4 work authorization “would not only siphon off U.S. gross domestic product, but gift that productivity — and the innovation that comes with it — to other nations.” The full amicus brief is available here.

BAL Analysis: Wednesday’s ruling is a significant victory that upholds eligible H-4 spouses’ rights to work in the United States. Save Jobs USA may appeal the ruling, and BAL will continue following the litigation and will provide updates as they become available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2023 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries, please contact copyright@bal.com.