President George W. Bush signed two bills (H.R. 2277 and H.R.2278) on 16, January 2002 granting work authorization for spouses of international transferees, treaty traders, and treaty investors.
H.R. 2278 addresses the problems related to relocation of foreign nationals. It lifts the prohibition for spouses of intra-company transferees from working.
Prior to H.R. 2278, spouses of L visa holders could not work unless they had their own employment-based visas. They could also be removed if found working without authorization. Dual-income housholds are currently more a rule than exception. Under the hitherto restrictive laws for spousal work issues, multinational companies could not easily transfer foreign nationals. An overseas assignment could involve sacrifice of spouses career or a second income. H.R. 2278 resolves these difficulties.
Another related issue is the requirement for L-1 nonimmigrant to have been employed continuously by a parent, subsidiary or other affiliate of the petitioning company for one of the past three years. H.R. 2278 lowers this one-year employment requirement to six months only for L-1s coming in under blanket petitions.
H.R. 2277 grants work authorization for spouses of E nonimmigrants.
Though the Congress has taken a step in the right direction to ensure spousal equity and reduce the hurdles to deploying L and E Visa personnel, there are other visas like H-1B to be included.