Google fronts Big Tech legal fight to preserve visas for immigrant spouses

It has submitted an amicus brief to protect the H-4 work authorization rule.

Brandon Wade / Reuters

The tech industry is continuing its fight to uphold immigration rights for highly-skilled workers. Google is leading the latest push to preserve a program that allows the spouses of H1-B visa holders to legally work in the US. Almost 30 companies including the web giant, Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Twitter have submitted an amicus brief in support of the H-4 policy as part of a pending case known as Save Jobs USA v. Department of Homeland Security.

A federal court in Washington is expected to rule on the lawsuit challenging the work program in the coming months. An advocacy group of IT workers from Southern California, who claimed they lost jobs to visa workers, filed the suit in 2015. It was subsequently delayed as President Trump sought to retract the H-4 rule. However, that didn't happen and now both the plaintiffs and President Joe Biden’s administration are seeking summary judgment, reports Reuters.

The tech industry has opposed Trump's anti-immigration policies from the outset, arguing that they would hinder its ability to hire the talent it requires. Google said in the latest filing that invalidating the H-4 rule “would result in these talented individuals being barred from the workplace, forcibly severing tens of thousands of employment relationships across the country.” The H-4 program provides work authorization to more than 90,000 H-4 visa holders, more than 90 percent of whom are women.

"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. Ending this program would hurt families and undercut the US economy at a critical moment," Catherine Lacavera, VP, legal at Google, said in a blog post.

Earlier this month, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it would suspend biometric screening requirements for H-4 and L-2 visa holders as they were causing lengthy delays. Critics of the Trump-era policy claim it was implemented to create barriers to immigration processing after the admin failed to revoke the laws.