Getting an H1b work visa is wonderful; however, what is even more wonderful is bringing your family members to the US. The USCIS visa holder can bring their spouse and dependent children to the US on an H4 visa for the same period of time his or her status is valid in the US. This article will give you an insight into the H4 visa and some frequently asked questions about the visa.
What is an H-4 visa?
The H4 visa is there for the dependents of the H visa holders in the United States. The current H visa holders include:
- H 1B visa holders – For foreign workers in the specialty occupation
- H 2A visa holders – For temporary agricultural workers
- H 2B visa holders – For temporary non-agricultural workers
- H3 visa holders – For Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor visa
This article will focus on H 1b dependents on H4 visas.
The H1b visa holder is called the principal applicant, and H4 visa holders are the dependents. H1b visa holders can sponsor their spouse as their dependent family member and unmarried children under the age of 21 years for an H4 visa.
How can I apply for an H4 visa?
Normally, people who apply for an H4 status live outside of the US at the time of application. If you are applying from outside of the US, you can follow the following procedure:
- The procedure normally starts after the petition of the principal applicant is approved by the USCIS. In an H1b case, when the H1b beneficiary gets their petition approved, their dependents can apply by completing DS-160 online for nonimmigrant visas.
- You have to pay the applicable fees for an H4 visa. Make sure to take out of the confirmation of the completeness of the form and receipt of payment by you.
- Schedule a visa interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate.
- At the interview, carry the receipt of payment and confirmation printout.
- The interview will be held with a US consular officer who will determine the legitimacy of the case.
- After the interview, if the interviewing officer feels that your visa case is genuine, it will allow your H4 visa petition.
What questions can I expect in an H4 visa interview?
The consular officer will ask you the basic questions to determine whether your visa case is bonafide or not. You can expect to be asked the following questions:
- How long have you been married?
- Where do you plan to live in the US?
- Who will support you financially in the US?
- How do you meet your spouse?
- Is your marriage registered?
- When is your spouse’s birthday?
- Who is sponsoring your H4 visa?
The questions are for general information purposes and to determine whether your case is bonafide or not. All the best for your interview!
Can I work on an H4 visa?
Yes, you can work in the United States on an H4 visa status; however, this option is available on certain conditions:
- Only the spouse of the H1b visa holder is eligible to work on an H4 visa.
- Your spouse should have an approved I-140 petition.
If these two conditions are met, then you can apply for a work permit to work in the US on H4 status.
How to apply for a work permit on an H4 visa?
You have to apply for Employment Authorization Document or EAD to get a work permit in the US once you meet the above requirements. For that, you have to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request employment authorization as an H-4 dependent spouse. Following documents will be required:
- Evidence of your H4 status. You can submit documents such as the I-797 approval notice or a copy of your I94 arrival-departure card.
- Marriage certificate to show that your marriage is bonafide
- Proof of your identity. You can submit your passport.
- Evidence that your spouse’s I-140 petition has been approved by the USCIS. You can submit the I-797 approval notice for the green card.
- Two-color passport size photo of yourself.
The H4 work permit allows working for any employer, either full-time or part-time. Unlike the H1b visa holder, you can change your employer quite easily. If your Form I-765 is approved by the USCIS, you must receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD/Form I-766) from USCIS before you may begin working.
Can I apply for a green card if I am on an H4 visa status?
Similar to H1B visa holders, the H4 allows the status holders to have dual intent. That is, you can keep the intent of obtaining a green card without affecting your current nonimmigrant status. This is important because most of the nonimmigrant visas do not allow you to have dual intent.
There are two ways you can get your green card while on H4 status in the US:
- Applying for a marriage-based green card: If your spouse applies for a green card and gets it approved from the USCIS, you can apply for a marriage-based green card based. This is one of the easiest ways of getting a green card in the US.
- Applying for an employment-based green card: You can avail this option if a US employer is ready to sponsor you for an employment-based immigrant visa such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visa. It is generally hard to find a sponsor and also to get your visa application approved as the threshold for the employment-based immigrant category is very high.
Many people get excited when it comes to a green card. You can fulfill this dream for you and your family members if you follow the right guidance from an immigration expert, and that is what Herman Legal Group helps their clients to achieve.
How can Herman Legal Group help you?
Herman Legal Group is an immigration law firm that provides comprehensive immigration services in all ranges of visas. It was founded in 1995 and is AV-Rated and has been awarded designation of “Best Law Firm” by U.S. News & World Report. The firm serves clients nationwide and from around the world. Get our immigration services comprise immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, permanent residence, American citizenship, etc. You can consult our immigration lawyer regarding your immigration case or about American nationality law by calling 1-800-808-4013 or 1-216-696-6170, or by booking online.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1#How long can I stay on an H4 visa?
If you are a dependent H1b visa holder on an H4 visa, you can stay in the US for the term of the principal applicant.
For example, if Harry is on an H1B visa for 3 years in the US, his dependent wife, and 5-year-old daughter can also stay in the US for 3 years. Further, Harry’s H1b extension petition has been approved for more than 3 years, so Harry’s wife and daughter can also apply for an extension of their stay term in the US.
2#What will happen to the status of H4 visa holders if the principal applicant loses their H1b visa status?
The H4 dependent status is tied to the status of an H1b visa holder. The reason for their getting their H4 status is because they are the dependents of H1b visa holders. So, if something happens that leads to H1b visa holders losing their status, the dependents will also lose their H4 status and their right to further stay in the US.
3#Can H1b visa holder’s children under 21 years of age study in the US on an H4 visa?
Yes, once admitted, the children of the H1b visa holder can study on an H4 visa in the US. However, they cannot work in the US on H4 visa status.
4#Can I work before my EAD is approved by the USCIS?
It is a bad idea to start working in the US before your EAD is approved by the USCIS. If you start working in the US before you get your work permit, you may expect the following repercussions of your actions:
- It can end your chances of getting your pending EAD approved by the USCIS.
- You may not be able to renew your status after its expiration date.
- You may adversely affect your chances of getting a green card.
- In very extreme circumstances, you may be deported from the US.
It is always advisable to consult an immigration attorney who will correctly guide you in your immigration process. A little professional guidance can help you save money and time. Consult with the Herman Legal Group’s experienced immigration lawyers, and let them analyze the facts and come up with the best legal strategy.
5#What will happen if my spouse’s I-140 is revoked after I get my EAD?
The USCIS requirements explicitly mention that for an H4 visa holder to be eligible for EAD; the H1B spouse must hold an approved Form I-140. So, if your spouse’s I-140 is already revoked, you will not qualify for an EAD.
However, if you already received an H4 EAD, and later your spouse’s I-140 petition is revoked, you can enjoy working authorization in the US until the period of expiration of your EAD.
After the expiration of your EAD, if you want to renew it, your spouse should have an approved I-140 petition.
6#What would happen if my spouse lost his job?
Suppose your spouse loses his H1b job; he will have a 60 days grace period to find a new H1b job. If your spouse fails to find a new H1b job within the grace period, you and the spouse will be considered out of status, and your EAD will become invalid.
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