Google files legal brief to protect work program for immigrant spouses

Google has filed an amicus brief to protect a program that allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States. The brief has been signed by numerous tech giants including Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Microsoft.

The tech industry has long relied on foreign talent to fill the gaps in its workforce. In 2020, Google and Amazon were among the top sponsors of H-1B visas, which are reserved for highly skilled workers.

Under President Trump, the program came under fire. The former president drastically boosted denial rates of H-1B applications, as reported by the Seattle Times. He also went after H-4 visas, which are reserved for the spouses of people with H-1B status. Trump threatened to ban H-4 visa holders — a group that is 90 percent women — from working in the United States.

While that ban never came to pass, the ability for people with H-4 visas to work is still under threat from a lawsuit against the federal government. The suit, called Save Jobs USA v. US Department of Homeland Security, was brought by tech workers, who argue that H-4 holders are unfair competition for Americans looking for jobs.

The case was delayed by President Trump’s proposed ban, which potentially could’ve helped decide the outcome had it passed. Now that the lawsuit is moving forward again, Google and other tech companies want to ensure that the spouses of immigrants maintain their right to work.

In its blog post, Google argues that if the program allowing H-4 holders to work were to go away, “the practical effect is that we welcome a person to the U.S. to work but we make it harder for their spouse to work.” It says that it would hurt not only immigrant families, but Google’s ability to hire top talent.

“As an immigrant myself, I have been the beneficiary of a welcoming America and I hope we can ensure that same welcome for future immigrants by preserving the H-4 EAD program,” wrote Catherine Lacavera, vice president of Google’s legal department, in the blog post. “Ending this program would hurt families and undercut the US economy at a critical moment.”

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