New federal immigration rules will allow spouses of some temporary workers who are seeking green cards to apply for their own work permits.
Microsoft executives can check off one of the items on their immigration policy wish list.
The Department of Homeland Security this week said that spouses of immigrants holding a type of temporary visa common at technology companies will soon be able to apply for work permits of their own.
“Microsoft has advocated for this critical change for many years,” Dev Stahlkopf, a deputy general counsel at Microsoft, said in a blog post on Thursday. “I know it will make a significant difference for the families of many of our hard-working and talented employees.”
Microsoft is among the largest participants in the H-1B visa program, which allows companies seeking to fill specialized jobs to sponsor immigrants to work in the U.S. for three years. The visa can be extended for another three years, and many H1-B holders choose to apply for permanent residency, or green card.
Their spouses are eligible for H-4 visas, which allow them to stay in the U.S. but not work. That left many immigrants, typically South Asian women, unable to work regardless of their qualifications unless they could find an employer to take the expensive step of sponsoring them for their own work visa.
The shift announced this week would allow some H-4 holders whose spouses are in the green card pipeline to apply for their own work permits. The rule takes effect on May 26.