The H4 visa is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to family members of H1B visa holders who will accompany or stay with the H1B visa holders. This visa is for foreigners who want to bring their spouse to the USA. An H4 visa holder with EAD can work under an employer or start a company or legal business of his/her own.
The H Categories Visa
There are 5 types of H categories visa available. They are –
1. H1B: Temporary workers in “specialty occupations”
2. H2A: Temporary agricultural workers
3. H2B: Temporary skilled and unskilled workers
4. H3: Trainees
5. H4: Dependents
Working On An H4 Visa
Usually, the spouses of H4 visa holders were not allowed to work in the USA. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provide an H4 visa to the spouses of H4 visa holders that only allow them to lawfully live in the U.S. with an H1B visa holder. Though, this rule was changed from May 26, 2015. Now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to eligible H4 visa holders. So an H4 visa holder with EAD can now legally work or start a business in the USA as long as their spouse’s H1B visa is valid.
The Difference Between H1B And H4 Visa
The H1B visa is for people who have a degree and want to work in the USA. The H1B visa allows foreigners to get a job in the same field as their degree. On the other hand, the H4 visa allows immigrants to bring their families to the United States. For example, if you are an H1B visa holder and have a wife/husband and children under the age of 21 then you can take them to the U.S. through an H4 visa. Your family members will be under the dependent category. People with the H4 visa holder can stay in the country as long as the husband/wife has a valid H1B visa. An H4 visa holder can open a bank account, go to school, and even get a driver’s license. Moreover, the H4 visa holder can work if he/she can obtain an H4 EAD. So, between the H1B and H4, visa holders the H1B is the principal applicant and the H4 visa holders will depend on them.
When To Apply For An H4 Visa?
You have to pick the right time to apply for an H4 visa. So the best time is when your wife or husband applies for an immigrant visa and has the petition approved, you can apply for an immigrant visa on that same petition. Children who are under the age of 21 and aren’t married can also apply to the same petition. The H1B visa holder has to go through with the whole application process too. That means you will have to pay certain fees, complete all the necessary forms, go to an interview, and undergo a medical examination as well. Once you are done with the process you can check the status of your visa petition on the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) website. You should apply for the H4 visa as soon as the H1B visa petition of your spouse gets approved. When you apply for an H4 visa it will be less certain how long it will take for your H4 visa to be approved. Everything depends on the U.S. Embassy, and how much work they have to do.
Eligibility Requirements For Certain H4 Dependent Spouses
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services certain H4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if the H-1B nonimmigrant:
1. Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
2. 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)
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.
Documents Required For H4 Visa Application
1. Completed Non-immigration H4 visa application form DS-160 stamped at the Visa Application Center (VAC).
2. Application US visa fee receipt
3. US Visa Interview Appointment Letter which you get in your email inbox at the time of taking a US visa appointment
4. Valid passport of each applicant
5. One photograph: 2 and 2 inches square (50 mm square) for each applicant
6. If the applicant is below 14 yrs of age, the Original Birth Certificate of this applicant (child) is required.
7. Original marriage certificate
8. Entire wedding photo album
9. A copy of the marriage invitation card of both the families
10. A complete copy of all the pages of your principal H1B’s passport
11. Copy of principal H1B holder’s approved petition I797, form I-129 and LCA
12. H1B visa holder’s employment verification letter. See a sample employment verification letter
13. Pay stubs from the principal applicant’s current place of work and income tax return
Documents Required For H4 Visa EAD
1. Evidence Of H4 Visa Status
Copy of your most recent Form I-797, Notice of Action, for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status; or
Copy of Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
2. Government-Issued Identification Document
Copy of your last EAD;
Copy of the biometric page of your passport;
Birth certificate w/photo ID;
Visa issued by a foreign consulate; or
National identity document with photo
3. Evidence Of Relationship To H1B Nonimmigrant
A copy of the marriage certificate
4. Evidence Of Your Basis For Eligibility For EAD
A copy of the H1B nonimmigrant Form I-797 approval notice for Form I-140
A copy of the H-1B nonimmigrant passports, prior Forms I-94, and current and prior Forms I-797
A copy of the Permanent Labor Certification Application
A copy of Form I-797 Notice of Receipt for Form I-140 that shows the form was filed at least 365 days before the six-year limitation of stay expiration
5. Two identical 2×2 Inch Passport-Style Color Photographs Of The Applicant
US Visa Fees
|US Visa Type||Fees (USD)|
|All non-petition based USA visa applicants: Visitor Visa (B2 visa), Business Visa (B1), Student Visa (F1 visa), F2, J1, J2 M1, M2||$160|
|All petition based applicants (H, L, O, P, Q, and R ) and dependent visas||$700|
There are many ways you can pay the US visa fees. They are –
1. Bank Electronic Payment via NEFT
2. Mobile Payments IMPS
3. Over counter Cash payment at Citibank or Axis bank
Magalie D. is a Diploma holder in Public Administration & Management from McGill University of Canada. She shares management tips here in MGTBlog when she has nothing to do and gets some free time after working in a multinational company at Toronto.