H4 Visa – All You Need to Know

The H4 visa is a type of visa that allows the spouse or minor child of an H-1B visa holder to enter the United States. This visa allows the dependent to stay in the country for the duration of the H-1B visa holder’s stay.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything about the H4 visa, what it is, what it does, the benefits, the restrictions, the application process, and everything else you need to know.

Introduction: What is the H4 Visa?

The H-4 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the holder to remain in the United States as a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). The H-4 visa is valid for up to 6 years and may be applied for with the visa petition by either the U.S. citizen or LPR filing for adjustment of status or by an employer who intends to hire the foreigner (H1-B) for a job position.

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Eligibility Requirements for the H4 Visa

The H4 visa is for the dependents of H-1B visa holders. H-1B visa holders are individuals who have been sponsored by their employer to come to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. H4 visa holders include the H-1B visa holder’s spouse and children (under the age of 21).

  • H1B visa holders may have to wait for more than a year to be eligible for the H4 visa.
  • You will need to have an H1B petition approved in order to apply for the H4 visa.
  • If you are filing on behalf of a child, you will need to provide evidence that your child is unmarried and under the age of 21.
  • Filing Requirements for the H4 Visa
  • You must file a petition with USCIS on Form I-129, the H-1B petition, to be eligible for the H4 visa.
  • If you are filing as the employer:
  • Submit the H-1B petition and applicable fees along with your request for the H4 visa.
  • If you are filing as the spouse of an H1B visa holder, you will need to submit documentation showing that you have been married to the H1B visa holder for at least two years and must submit a completed Form I-130, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
  • You must also submit a one-time $750 fee.
  • The H4 visa can only be applied for if your H1B petition has been approved.

Applying for the H4 Visa

The H-4 visa is issued to the spouses of H-1B visa holders. In order to qualify for this visa, the applicant must prove that she or he has a serious relationship with the H-1B visa holder, as defined by the United States government.

The application process for an H4 visa includes the following steps:

  1. Submit a completed visa application form.
  2. Submit a passport-style photograph.
  3. Pay the visa application fee.
  4. Schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  5. Attend the interview and provide the required documentation.
  6. Wait for a decision on the application.

The Difference Between the H1B and H4 Visas

The H-4 visa allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to apply for legal permanent residency. The H-1B visa allows foreign workers in specialty occupations to temporarily enter the United States for work. The H-4 visa is valid for up to three years, and applicants must be sponsored by a U.S. employer. The main difference between the H-4 and H-1B visas is that the latter requires a job offer from a U.S. employer while the former does not. Due to high demand, the wait time for an H-4 visa has reached more than five years.

How to convert H4 visa to H1 visa?

What Activities Are Allowed with an H4 Visa?

An H4 visa allows the holder to enter and remain in the United States as the dependent spouse of an H-1B visa holder. The H4 visa holder is not authorized to work in the United States, but may attend school or college.

There are a number of activities that are not allowed with an H4 visa. These include:

  • Working without authorization
  • Studying at a school that is not accredited by the US Department of Education
  • Engaging in any kind of illegal activity
  • Overstaying the allowed period of stay in the US

Work Permit for Spouses of H-1B Holders

EAD and work permits for H4 visa holders allow them to work in the United States. H4 visa holders can apply for an EAD through USCIS or through their employer. To apply for an EAD, H4 visa holders must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the required supporting documents.

H4 visa holders with an EAD can work in any occupation, including self-employment. They can also start their own business. However, they are not authorized to work in certain jobs, such as jobs that require a security clearance.

H4 visa holders can also apply for a work permit through their employer. To do so, they must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, along with the required supporting documents.

Can H4 visa holders work?

H4 Visas and Travel Outside the United States

Yes, h4 visa holders can travel outside the United States. However, they must have a valid passport and must obtain travel authorization from the US Department of Homeland Security before they can return to the United States.

Top H4 interview questions and answers

What are the requirements for the H4 Visa?

There are a few requirements for the H4 Visa. The applicant must be the spouse or child of an H-1B visa holder and must be seeking to enter the United States for the purpose of accompanying the H-1B visa holder. Additionally, the applicant must have a valid passport and must meet all other general requirements for entering the United States.

H4 Visa documents required at Port of Entry

What are the benefits of the H4 Visa?

The H4 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the spouse and dependent children of an H-1B visa holder to enter and live in the United States. The H4 visa holder may also attend school and work in the United States.

How to apply for H4 visa from USA

What are the drawbacks of the H4 Visa?

The main drawback of the H4 visa is that it does not allow the holder to work in the United States. The holder may apply for an EAD, which will allow them to work in the United States and to travel outside of the country, but this requires a very lengthy process.

How long is the H4 Visa valid for?

The H4 visa is valid for the same length of time as the H1B visa.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.

  1. sri

    Hi, I have valid H4 visa status till March 2025.

    I came to India in Aug 2023 from the US.

    Can I stay in India more than 6 months?

    Will I face any issues regarding immigration while re-entering the US for staying more than 6 months in India?

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