H1B is a highly popular non-immigrant visa that is issued to a person who is visiting the US for the purpose of temporary employment in certain specialty occupation. This visa is issued for a minimum of 3 years. If required, it can be extended for a total of up to 6 years. The best thing about the H1 B visa is that it allows the visa holder to bring their spouse and children to the US during the period of their stay.
The Spouse Visa
To bring their spouse to America, the H1B visa holder is required to apply for an H4 visa, also known as the dependent visa. The H4 visa is issued to dependent family members, such as spouse and children under the age of 21 years, of the H1B visa holder, so that they can accompany them to the US during their stay.
Until the Obama government made changes to the rules in 2015, H4 visa holders were not allowed to work for pay in the US. IN 015, the Obama administration granted the issue of employment authorization documents (EADs) to the dependents of H1B visa holders, who have entered the US on an H4 visa. EAD holders, most often, are spouses of highly skilled professionals from India.
The 2015 revision to the rules was a relief for a large number of highly qualified women, who were idling away in the US after leaving behind an established career in India.
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Since 2015, the US has given employment authorization documents to more than 100,000 H4 visa holders (spouses/dependents of H1B workers), according to data released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
However, President Trump, who took over at the Oval Office in January 2017, is considering ending this rule. If he does, people in the US on an H4 visa will not be able to work in America. However, that is something still being debated. Till then, learn about how you can apply for an H4 visa to enter the US.
How to Apply
The procedure to apply for an H4 visa is the same as that for any other H type visa. To apply for an H4 visa, you need to:
- Fill in the electronic DS-160 form
- Pay the H4 visa fees
- Schedule the interview appointment
Documents Required During the Interview
- Proof of marriage, including original marriage certificate, wedding albums, wedding invitation card
- Copy of passport
- Employment verification letters
- Pay stubs
- Tax returns
- US visa application fee receipt
When applying for an H1 B visa, if you are sure that you would want to bring your dependents to the US, you can simultaneously apply for the H4 visas for your spouse and children (only those who are under the age of 21). This way, the visa interview for the H1B visa applicant and their dependents at the American Consulate can be held on the same day.
The H4 visa can also be applied for at a later time. Here, the possibility of the dependent getting their interview appointment on the same day as you will be low.
During the visa interview, the consular office will want to know whether the relationship of the H4 visa applicant with the H1B visa holder is genuine or not. The key to success is to answer all questions honestly and confidently.