The H-4 visa allows you to go to the United States if you are the spouse or minor child of a H visa holder.
This article gives you a complete overview of H-4 visas for spouses and children of H-1B visa holders. You will understand the eligibility criteria, required documents, and the application process. It also covers benefits such as the ability to reside in the US, attend school, and apply for work permits, as well as interview questions for H-4 visa holders.
What is H-4 Visa?
The H-4 visa is a dependent visa for the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-1B visa holder. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant work visa that enables US employers to hire foreign workers in speciality occupations.
H-4 visa holders are not authorized to work in the US, but they are allowed to attend school, obtain a driver’s license, and open a bank account. They can also apply for a work permit (EAD) under certain circumstances, such as when their H-1B spouse is seeking permanent residency.
To apply for H-4 visa, the H-1B visa holder must first obtain their own H-1B visa. They can then apply for H-4 visas for their spouse and children. The process involves submitting various forms, documents, and fees to the USCIS.
The H-4 visa is typically valid for the same period as the H-1B visa, and the H-4 visa holders must maintain their status along with the H-1B visa holder. If the H-1B visa holder loses their status or leaves the US, the H-4 visa holders must also leave the country or change their status.
Benefits of Holding H-4 Visa
H-4 visa application is a non-immigrant visa that allows the spouse and dependent children of an H1B visa holder to enter and reside in the United States. Here are some potential benefits of holding H-4 visa:
- Accompanying the H-1B visa holder: The primary benefit of holding H-4 visa is that it allows the visa holder to accompany their spouse or parent who is working in the US on an H1B visa. This enables the family to stay together while the primary visa holder works in the US.
- Study opportunities: H-4 visa holders can attend school in the US. They can enroll in full-time or part-time academic or vocational courses.
- Work authorization: As of 2021, certain H-4 visa holders were eligible to apply for employment authorization. H-4 visa holders who meet certain eligibility criteria get the benefits to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (H-4 EAD) and work in the United States.
- Access to healthcare: H-4 visa holders may get the benefit to enroll in a health insurance plan in the US, either through their spouse’s employer or the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
- Opportunity to travel: H-4 visa holders can travel in and out of the US as long as their visa is valid. They can also apply for a US driver’s license or identification card.
It’s important to note that the benefits of H-4 visa may vary depending on individual circumstances, and there may be limitations or restrictions on certain benefits.
Who is Eligible for H-4 Visa?
To be eligible for H-4 visa, you must be one of the following:
1. Spouse of an H-1B visa holder: If you are legally married to an H-1B visa holder, you may be eligible for H-4 visa.
2. Unmarried child under 21 years of age: If you are the unmarried child of an H-1B visa holder and are under 21 years of age, you may be eligible for H-4 visa.
3. Unmarried child over 21 years of age: If you are the unmarried child of an H-1B visa holder and are over 21 years of age, you may still be eligible for H-4 visa if you meet certain criteria. For example, you must be financially dependent on your H-1B visa-holder parent and have entered the United States before turning 21.
It is important to note that in order to be eligible for H-4 visa, the H-1B visa holder must maintain their status and remain in valid H-1B status throughout the duration of their stay in the United States.
H-4 Visa Requirements
To be eligible for H-4 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
1. Relationship to H-1B holder: You must be the spouse or unmarried child (under 21 years old) of an H-1B visa holder who is currently in the United States or applying for an H-1B visa from outside the United States.
2. Valid H-1B status: Your spouse or parent must be maintaining valid H-1B status in the United States, and their employer must have filed a petition to extend their H-1B status beyond their current expiration date.
3. Proof of relationship: You must provide proof of your relationship to the H-1B holder, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate.
4. No dual intent: You must not have any intention of immigrating permanently to the United States, and you must be able to demonstrate strong ties to your home country, such as a job, property, or family.
5. Application process: You must apply for H-4 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States, provide all required documentation and attend an interview if necessary.
Note: H-4 visa holders are generally not authorized to work in the United States unless they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Documents Required for H-4 Visa
Following are the documents required for obtaining H-4 visa:
- A valid passport that will not expire for at least six months after the intended period of stay in the United States.
- A completed nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160.
- A recent photograph meeting the U.S. visa photo requirements.
- A copy of the H-1B visa holder’s approval notice (Form I-797) to demonstrate their valid H-1B status.
- Proof of relationship to the H-1B visa holder, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate.
- Evidence of the H-1B visa holder’s ability to financially support the H-4 visa applicant during their stay in the United States.
- Payment of the visa application fee.
- Any other documents required by the U.S. embassy or consulate where the application will be processed.
H-4 Visa Application Process
An H-4 visa is a dependent visa that allows the spouse and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of an H-1B visa holder to accompany them to the United States. To apply for H-4 visa, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Check your eligibility: You must be the spouse or child of an H-1B visa holder to be eligible for H-4 visa.
2. Gather required documents: You will need to gather the required documents for your visa application. These may include your passport, a completed visa application form, a copy of your H-1B spouse’s visa, marriage certificate (if applying as a spouse), and birth certificate (if applying as a child).
3. Schedule an appointment: Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you will need to schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
4. Attend the visa interview: At the interview, you will be asked questions about your background, purpose of travel, and ties to your home country. You will also need to provide your biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photograph.
5. Wait for visa processing: After your interview, you will need to wait for your visa to be processed. Processing times can vary depending on the workload at the embassy or consulate, so it is recommended that you apply for your visa well in advance of your planned travel date.
6. Travel to the US: Once your visa is approved, you can travel to the United States.
Note: It is important to note that H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work in the United States unless they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
H-4 Visa Status
H-4 visa is a dependent visa for spouses and children of H-1B visa holders in the US. H-4 visa holders cannot work but can study and get a driver’s license and a Social Security number. They may be able to apply for a work permit if their H-1B spouse has applied for a green card. H-4 visa status is linked to the H-1B visa status of the primary holder, and H-4 visa holders must comply with visa requirements to maintain their status.
H-4 Visa Fees
The Visa fee payable for the H-4 visa is $190, which is approximately 11, 000 INR. This amount should be paid before scheduling the interview for the visa. The payment can be made through debit cards electronically via NEFT or IMPS transactions. The Visa fee paid is non-refundable.
H-4 Visa Process for Minor Child
The process for obtaining an H-4 visa for a minor child is similar to the process for obtaining H- 4 visa for a spouse. Here are the basic steps:
- The H-1B visa holder (parent) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Form I-129 must include the dependent child’s information, such as name, date of birth, and passport details.
- Once Form I-129 is approved, the parent must apply for H-4 visa for the dependent child at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. The parent should make an appointment and attend the visa interview with the child.
- During the visa interview, the consular officer will review the child’s application and ask questions about their relationship to the H-1B visa holder and their plans for living in the United States.
- If the visa is approved, the child will receive their passport with the H-4 visa attached. The H-4 visa will state the validity period and any restrictions or conditions, such as a prohibition on employment.
Note: It is important to note that the H-4 visa application process can vary depending on the country and U.S. embassy or consulate where the application is submitted. Additionally, the parent may need to provide additional documentation, such as the child’s birth certificate or a letter of consent if only one parent is traveling with the child. It’s best to consult with an immigration attorney or the U.S. embassy or consulate in your country for guidance on the specific requirements and procedures.
H-4 Visa Interview Questions
The H-4 visa interview questions can vary depending on the consular officer’s discretion and the circumstances of the applicant. However, here are some general questions that may be asked during the H-4 visa interview:
1. What is your relationship to the H-1B visa holder?
2. What is the purpose of your travel to the United States?
3. How long do you plan to stay in the United States?
4. Have you been to the United States before? If yes, what was the purpose of your visit and how long did you stay?
5. What do you plan to do while in the United States?
Note: If you want to know more about H-4 visa interview questions and their answers, you can contact Kodem Law for assistance.
H-4 Visa Processing Time
The H-4 wait time is anywhere between 5 to 9 months. However, the wait time will generally depend on the caseload of the U.S. consulate or embassy that you will go to for your interview. You may have to schedule your interview several weeks in advance. If you are approved, then it will also take a few weeks for the embassy to mail you your passport with your visa inside. You can see your consulate’s specific processing time by searching on the State Department’s site for the consulate city.
How Long is H-4 Visa Valid?
The H-4 visa is valid for three years. The eligibility lasts until the principal H-1 holder has an approved I-129. In an unfortunate situation where the H-1B holder is out of a job, then a grace period of 60 days will be given.
How Can Kodem Law Help?
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the eligibility requirements for H-4 dependents to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and work in the US? Are there any limitations or restrictions on their ability to work?
To be eligible for an EAD, H-4 dependents must be married to an H-1B visa holder who has been approved for an extension beyond the initial six-year limit or in the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status. Additionally, the sponsoring employer must be a US employer or a foreign employer with a US presence.
H-4 dependents must file Form I-765 to receive employment authorization from the USCIS. While they can work for any employer in the US, there may be restrictions on their ability to work depending on their individual circumstances and visa status.
An H-4 EAD is a type of work permit that allows certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders to legally work in the United States. Prior to 2015, H-4 visa holders were not allowed to work in the US. However, the US government implemented a rule that allowed certain H-4 dependent spouses to apply for and receive work authorization. Not all H-4 dependents are eligible for an EAD, and the rules and requirements can be complex. It is best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine eligibility and navigate the application process.