Background is explained as follows: An alternative considered by DHS was to permit employer authorization for all H-4 dependent spouses. In enacting AC21, Congress was especially concerned with avoiding the disruption to U.S. businesses caused by the required departure of H-1B workers (for whom the businesses intended to file employment-based immigrant visa petitions) upon the expiration of workers' maximum six-year period of authorized stay.
Although the inability of an H-4 spouse
to work may cause an H-1B worker to consider departing from the
United States prior to his or her eligibility for an H-1B extension.
This alternative was rejected in favor of the proposed process
to limit employment authorization to the smaller sub-class of
H-4 nonimmigrants who intend to remain in the United States permanently
and who have been granted an extension of H status under the
provisions of AC21.