Life on H-4 and H-4-EAD Survey:

We sincerely thank each and every one of the participants! Your responses are invaluable!

This is a survey that we crafted and distributed in order to get a peek into the lives of the ‘wingless’, ‘crippled winged’ and/or ‘winged’ dependents on the less fortunate ‘Dependent Visas’.

We received about 100 overwhelming, detailed responses which depict the career hurdles and other poignant journeys of various women/men on this visa who have lost their rights to work, become less confident, suffered abuse, lack financial independence for basic survival, those whose careers have been constantly at threat due to the whims and delays of the visa and renewal policies, etc.

These women (mostly, although a few men) once employed (94% of them) back home come to the United States to unite with their spouses and live together at a heavy price-losing one’s own professional self for a good number of years before they can stand up on their feet again. Even after they get their EADs, most women cite that renewal delays have cost them their jobs. They have accepted lower paying jobs or have been overqualified for the jobs that they finally get after overcoming the career gap hiccups and often bear the burden of the label of ‘dependent visa work permit’ with various restrictions.

This survey opened our eyes and in some cases reconfirmed the damaging ripple effect of the restrictive H-4 visa. The wide-ranging effects range from thwarted career aspirations, mental health challenges and estranged family relationships. About 95% of the survey participants said that their careers were affected, 78% of them said their mental health took a toll, and around 38% of them indicated that their family relationships were strained.

Confidence is another important factor that affects one who goes out of a job for years together. We saw that about 47% of the participants are impacted by this. This can severely impact a person’s long-term outlook in life, having far reaching consequences regardless of whether one remains on the visa or gets a green card.

The supposed ‘land of opportunities’ has definitely denied opportunities to this deserving lot for no obvious reason. We hope and aspire that the restrictions around this visa will be changed, however bleak the current situation appears.

In the meanwhile, these stories need to be told. Stay tuned for more on our upcoming film, “Dreams Uprooted”, which gives a deeper insight into how deeply women are impacted by the H-4 visa and how finally getting an H-4 EAD (work authorisation) has allowed them to take steps towards rebuilding their dreams, which could be uprooted at any moment if the H-4 EAD is revoked. We thank everyone profusely who has supported this cause!

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© 2017 by Meghna Damani