New York: In a huge relief, the word "Withdrawn" on a thick bureaucratic file on the seventh day of the Biden administration brought a huge win for spouses of workers on H1B visas in the US who spent the last four years worried sick that their work authorisations would be killed off.

This brings to an end, years of effort by the Donald Trump administration to rescind an Obama era regulation that allowed a certain subset of spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US.

H4 visa holders could not legally hold paid employment in the United States up until the summer of 2015. Almost as soon as Obama changed the game, the lawsuits followed and then the Trump presidency took the attack on the H4 work permit to a whole new level.

From then the skewering of the H4 work permit (called the EAD) began in Fall 2017, the proposed rule has been published seven times for ongoing review, keeping the H4 community on cliff-edge. The Trump government justified the move saying it is "economically significant" and aligns with the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order, which was mostly code for keeping foreign workers out of the US and flinging red meat to the Trump base. Now, the backlink to that Trump executive order ends up as a 404 (page not found) error and re-routes to the Biden White House.

"Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization" was a Trumpian agenda pursued by White House immigration hawks with a great deal of inter-agency collaboration and discipline. It was being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

After years on cliff edge, the H4 community is relieved. "We've had enough," said an Atlanta resident who has a valid H4 employment authorisation document.

Soon after Trump came to power, the Department of Homeland Security began reviewing the Obama era rule in 2017 and kept up steady pressure on the H4 community in the US through the Trump years.

Data from the US government shows that Indian and Chinese workers account for the lion's share of H1B visas. H4 visas typically follow the same trajectory. Indians filed 74% of all H1B petitions in fiscal year 2019. Chinese filed 11.8%.

(With inputs from agency)