H1B Visa Travelers
Posted By Karthik

Can an H4 Visa Holder Work in the USA


(Last Updated On: March 13, 2019)

The H4 visa is given to dependent family members of an H1B visa holder, accompanying him or her to the US. Dependent family members include the children and spouse of the H1B visa holder. You can simultaneously submit the application for the H1B visa for yourself and H4 visa for your family members.

An H4 visa does not give its holder the same freedom as the H1B visa does. However, there are a number of things you can do with the H4 visa. Here’s a look.

Get a Driver’s License

You can get a driver’s license by providing the following documents to the DMV of your state:

  • Visa, along with passport
  • H4 Approval Notice (Form H4 I-797)
  • Arrival-Departure Record Card (I-94 card)
  • H1B approval notice from your spouse (Form H1B I-797)
  • A letter from the Social Security Number office showing your non-eligibility for SSN
  • Electricity or phone bills that have your name
  • Medical insurance documents
  • Your Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • US bank account statements
  • Your home country’s driving license
  • Rent lease papers in your name
  • Birth certificate from your home country in English

Get Admission in Educational Institutions

There are three main types of institutions that you can join with an H4 visa. These are universities, local institutes and community colleges.

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To get a college degree, such as MS, MBA, BS, BA etc., you can get enrolled in any university. Most universities allow admission of international students with any type of visa except for the F-1 visa. In order to get admission for MBA and MS, you will need to pass the GMAT and GRE exam, respectively. For an admission to undergraduate programs, you are required to clear the TOEFL or SAT exam.

To get into a local training institute, no particular exam needs to be cleared. You can upgrade your skills through these institutes, but their diploma or certificates may not help you land a job.

Work in the United States

If you hold just an H4 visa, you are not authorized to work in the US. However, since 2015, there has been a regulation change that allows specific H4 visa holders to work. For this, you will need to apply and get approval for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

After approval of your application, your H4 visa will get converted into an H4 EAD visa. The H4 EAD visa status allows you to get some additional privileges and benefits, such as:

  • You can work in a full time or part time job
  • You can start any type of business

Current Updates Regarding the H4 EAD

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under President Trump’s administration, has moved ahead to completely scrap the H4 EAD rule. On February 20, 2019, the DHS submitted its rule for H4 EAD removal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The processing time can range between a couple of days to 90 days.

This means that the US administration intends to officially remove the H4 EAD rule very soon. If this occurs, there will be no option for H4 visa holders to apply for EAD status to work in the US. However, before the review process is completed, eligible H4 holders can still apply for the EAD.


Having lived in 3+ countries, worked for companies small and big in USA, Middle East & India, I have a lot of stories to share about international travel, immigration and living as an NRI in the US. Add me on WhatsApp if you have any queries (+001-408-489-4785)