H4 Visa (Dependent Visa)
A H4 visa is issued to dependent family members (spouse and children) of H1B visa holders who would like to accompany the H1B visa holder to the U.S. during their stay.
This article outlines the complete process on how to apply for H4 dependent visas. In such a case, the principal applicant is always the H1B visa holder. Immediate family members like spouse and children under 21 years old may qualify for a H4 visa and may apply at a US Consulate in their home country.
If you are applying for your visa along with your spouse, who is applying for H1 simultaneously, then you can submit both applications together. An H4 visa allows visa holders to:
- Get a driver’s license
- Pursue education
- Open bank account(s)
- Become eligible for an ITIN (Tax ID for IRS Tax purposes)
- Work in the US
According to the H4 EAD ruling, dependents of H1B visa holders having a valid H4 visa may work in the US by applying for Employment Authorization. For more information, read about EAD for H4 Dependents.
H4 Visa Tips
Avoid errors in filling out the visa application and understanding the legalities related to the H4 visa. Here are some useful tips for the H4 visa applicants.
- While providing the information for a visa interview and filing online application form, H4 visa applicants must clearly state their Last Name and Given Name. If your maiden name is different from your name after marriage, please update your passport with the new name. Often there is a lot of confusion caused by name changes after marriage. This should be sorted out before applying for official visas.
- Also, please check if the passport issuing authorities have written your name correctly. Common errors are: writing the name in the Last name field, writing Last name instead of Given Name and vice versa. Applicants should check their passport and if the whole name is given in one line, they should get the same changed from passport office before applying for a visa.) In the nutshell, make sure your name is correctly filled out.
- It is advisable to get your spouse’s name endorsed on your passport beforehand.
You have to show sufficient evidence that you are married to the principal applicant
- Please make sure that you carry a fairly descriptive wedding album, meaning, your album must have many wedding pictures.
- You and your groom must be clearly visible and easily identifiable in the pictures.
- It is advised to include photographs showing marriage rituals, ceremonies, etc. pertaining to your wedding, engagement ceremony, photos of your families, etc.
Check your visa
Upon receiving your visa, please check for any errors in typing of:
- your name
- your spouse’s name
- date of birth
- type of visa
- validity date
The key to getting the H4 visa is doing the right thing at the right time and at the right place. Complete your H4 visa paperwork, understand the process, and be proactive during the application period.
Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses
Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrant’s can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if the H-1B non-immigrant:
- Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
- Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21).
The Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule (H-4 rule), effective on May 26, 2015, seeks to support the goals of attracting and retaining highly skilled foreign workers and minimizing the disruption to U.S. businesses resulting from H1B non-immigrant’s who choose not to remain in the United States and pursue LPR status.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specific specialty that is directly related to the H-1B position. In addition to specialty occupation workers, the H-1B classification applies to individuals performing services related to a Department of Defense cooperative research and development project or coproduction project, and to individuals performing services of distinguished merit and ability in the field of fashion modeling.