- What is the H4 Visa?
- Who is eligible for an H4 visa?
- What are the required documents for the H4 visa?
- What is the H4 visa application process?
- What to expect from the H4 Visa Interview
- How can I extend my H4 visa?
- What happens if my H4 is denied?
- Can H-4 visa holders work in the US?
- How to Apply for the Employment Authorization Document
What is the H4 Visa?
A H4 dependent visa allows you to:
- Work – by applying for Employment Authorization
- Get a driver’s license
- Go to school
- Open bank accounts in the US
At Total Law, our immigration lawyers have helped several individuals with a successful H4 visa application. For assistance and legal guidance with applying for an H4 visa, call us on +1 844 290 6312 or email email@example.com.
Who is eligible for an H4 visa?
Dependent family members of H-type visa holders are eligible for the H4 dependent visa. Dependents include spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
If your child depends on you financially or otherwise but is over 21, they are not eligible for an H4 visa. Also, if a child comes with you to the US with an H4 visa, once they turn 21, they will have to change to another non-immigration visa status, for example, the F-1 student visa or visitor visas, to remain in the US.
You’re eligible for an H4 visa as long as your family member has a valid H-1B, H1B1, H2A, H2B, or H3 visa. If the principal has an H1B visa and loses their job, 60 days is given to the H4 visa holder to explore other visa routes.
Nevertheless, it’s best to seek advice from an immigration lawyer to ensure you meet the requirements and have the right documents to increase the chances of your application being processed faster and successful.
What are the documents required for the H4 visa?
Before you begin your H4 visa application process, ensure you have the following documents:
- Copy of spouse or parent’s passport
- Copy of the principal H visa
- Payslips from the H-type visa holder’s current place of work
- Copy of the H 1B visa holder’s employment verification letter and Income tax return of the principal (if they are already working in the U.S.)
Additionally, you must provide supporting documents to prove that the dependent family member is the spouse or child of the primary H-type visa holder. These documents may include:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Wedding photo album
- Wedding invitation card
When in doubt about how much information to provide to prove the connection between the primary visa holder and H-4 dependent, more is often better than less.
What is the H4 visa application process?
You can apply for the H-4 visa while the principal spouse or parent is applying for the H visas or after.
To start the H4 visa application, you must fill the Form DS-160 online. When you start the application, you will get the DS-160 barcode on a confirmation page. Ensure that you save or print it as you will need it in setting up your interview.
While applying, you also pay the application fee. The fee is $190 currently. Also, save the receipt as you will need it later.
After filling the DS-160, you should schedule an interview appointment with the US embassy in your home country or USCIS if in the United States. Once you do this, you will get a letter of confirmation, which, again, you should save.
Ensure you attend your interview on the scheduled date with the required and application documents. During the interview, you will be asked some questions to determine if you will be granted an H-4 visa.
Tens of thousands of H-4 visas are approved every year. If you have received an approval notice concerning your H4 visa application, you need to go for the last step in the process, which is visa stamping.
Then you pick up your permit to live legally in the US for as long as it’s valid. The H4 visa is typically valid as long as your spouse or parent’s H-type visa is.
What to expect from the H4 Visa Interview
When going for the H4 interview, go with the supporting documents mentioned above as well as other documents that include:
- Filled DS-160 form
- Receipt of the payment for the application
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Interview appointment confirmation
During the interview, you will be asked some visa interview questions to investigate the different aspects of your application and your eligible status.
There are no fixed questions. Each applicant’s questions are based on their circumstances; they establish if they have a genuine relationship with the principal H-type visa holder, adequate financial support, and intend not to engage in illegal activities in the United States.
Answer the questions truthfully and provide the evidence and supporting documents to ensure a successful application.
If you are granted an H-4 visa after the interview, you will receive a notification from the US Embassy where you applied. You can check the status of your application on the USCIS website by entering your application number.
When you’re granted the H-4 visa, you are required to go for stamping and to pick up your permit. With that, you qualify to live, open a bank account, go to school, and perform other permitted activities for H-4 visa holders.
How can I extend my H4 visa?
The expiration date of the H4 visa should be the same date that the primary H visa that your spouses or parents have. In other words, it has the same time limit as that of the sponsor with H1, H2, or H3 visas.
If the primary H visa is extended or you need to extend your H4 visa, you can apply for an H4 Visa extension. You can do that by filling and submitting Form I-539. In addition, you must resubmit proof of your relationship with the sponsor and other documents that may include:
- The most recent copy of the dependent’s prior Forms I-94
- The most recent copy of the principal H-type holder’s Form I-94
- Copies of the primary H visa holder’s I-129 and I-797 forms
You must apply for an extension before the H-4 visa expires to ensure you don’t overstay your visa and break the immigration law.
What happens if my H4 is denied?
Suppose your application for the H4 visa was denied. In that case, you can apply again, as long as the primary H visa holder still holds a valid H visa and you haven’t broken any immigration law or participated in some other illegal activity in the US.
Before you reapply, ensure that you have addressed the reason for the rejection. An H4 visa may be rejected for reasons that include:
- The principal applicant’s finances must meet or exceed the state poverty line
- The principal’s W2 annual salary is lower than their Labor Condition Approval (LCA) salary.
- The immigration authorities determined that the dependent’s intentions are not right or legal
If your H-4 application was rejected, reach out to our immigration experts. We will assess your situation and advise on what to do next. If we determine that you can have a successful application, we can help you prepare it to ensure success. Call us on +1 844 290 6312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Can H4 visa holders work in the US?
H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work, be it employment, self-employment, or freelance situations. If that person works without work authorization, they violate immigration law and will face penalties that may include losing their visa.
H-4 visa holders can apply for work authorization in the US. To work in the US on an H4 visa, applicants must be dependent spouses of H 1B nonimmigrants. In addition, the following is required:
- The H-1B visa holder must be the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- The H1B visa holder is applying for a green card, and the H1B visa was extended beyond the six-year limit under the provisions of AC21 immigration law
How can Total Law help?
At Total Law, we have years of experience helping spouses and children of H visa holders get approved for an H-4 visa. We are trained in US immigration law and provide immigration services to support you in your H-4 visa application. Our services include:
- Assessing your status & documents to offer legal advice on your options
- Assistance with gathering evidence to prove that dependent is the principal’s spouse or child
- Filling the H-4 visa application
- Communicating with USCIS on your behalf
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You can go with your family members for the interview. Most dependents go with the principal for their interviews. Typically, individual interviews are not common.
If you have to go to a separate interview with your spouse or child, you will still be asked the necessary questions to determine intent and eligibility.
An H4 visa and any US visas do not guarantee entry into the United States. The port of entry officers and the US Department of Homeland Security determine who is safe to enter the US. If you are deemed safe, you are allowed to enter.
The processing times between when you file your H4 visa application and when you receive it varies based on the workload of the US Embassy in your home country or the USCIS and other factors.
Some applicants receive their H-4 visa in as little as 15 days of processing time, while others wait longer. Premium processing is not available for H-4.
Also, some issues, for example, a missing application document or submitting an H4 application at a different time from the main H visa, may cause delays.
Most H visas are dual intent, so H-4 visa holders can apply for a green card. However, applying for a green card on an H4 visa takes a much longer time than most other routes since you don’t have a high priority; you might have to wait for several years before getting a green card.
A better way to get a green card is to change your H4 visa to an H1B visa if you qualify for another higher-priority visa. With that, your green card may be processed faster.
Note that you don’t need an F1 visa to study in the US if you already have an H4. You have the same study opportunities as a student on an F-1 visa, including enrolling in a college, benefiting from local tuition, and taking courses.
The USA H4 visa costs $190. This fee is paid while applying as the application fee. According to the immigration rule, this is the only fee applied to the application in the USA as there is no premium processing.