Plight of spouses on H4 visa ruining well being of families

visaWith increasing globalization and American policy of inviting immigrants, there are thousands of men and women who are probably rejoicing at the fact that they have received an H1B visa by which they can work in the US and also take their families along. While this is true, what is equally true is that spouses who come to the US under the H4 visa are in for a really problematic time ahead of them in an unknown country.

When people shift with their spouse because of better job opportunities the underlying factor in their minds is that they would also be able to do something not only to ensure a sustainable income but to suitably occupy themselves. Imagine their shock and despair when they come to know that the visa that they have been assigned to does not allow the spouse to work, unless it is some underhand over the counter payment at some small joint.

This can be a rude shock to especially those people who are well qualified and are used to working and earning for themselves. While they do have the option of enrolling themselves in a higher education course, working and earning money is a closed option.

Curiously and predictably perhaps the problem does not end at only that. Not being able to earn their own living leads to numerous mental, emotional and adjustment problems, which often affect the families and ruin the very well being of the people and their families.

This is more rampant with women, most of whom are extremely young girls married off by their parents in the hope that they will lead a good life in the US. Many a time these girls not only find themselves in an alien country but in situations where there is domestic violence too. Because of the fact that they are not financially independent they cannot do what they wish. This leads to huge problems and even great mental and physical torture at times.

Even when the cases are not as extreme as this, there are plenty of cases where spouses have been through acute depression not being able to either get out of the situation because of family ties or reconcile to a life of doing nothing. In fact this situation has reached such alarming proportions that psychiatrists and self help groups are more than concerned. There have been many efforts through the media and individuals to highlight this fact to the US government, but all of this has failed to change the laws.

Rashi Bhatnagar, an active proponent of the H4 cause, introduced Shah Peerally, an immigration attorney in the Bay to the H4 group and since then they both have been working very hard to make a change including letters to Obama, online petitions, article on major newspapers and even a movie.

On its part the Shah Peerally production house has brought forth a very engaging film that showcases the problems of those with an H4Visa. The film has been aptly named as ‘H4 visa the curse’. The film has been produced by Shah Peerally, who is a well known immigration lawyer in the Bay area of California. The film depicts the real pain of those on the H4 visas. The movie also tries to give some answers and possible real life solutions from a legal perspective – something that the immigrant community has perhaps not seen before.

More details about the movie can be found at

The movie will certainly not only help those who are not on such a visa understand the dilemma of the H4 visa holders but should actually create an awareness on the issue and hopefully gather enough support to change this unfair law. As such it gives hope to many although it may be some time before H4 visa rules are changed and spouses are allowed to work.
The movie is expected to be released during holiday season in December 2013.

Ritu Maheshwari
India Post News Service

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