Top 11 facts about the USA H4 Visa

What is H4 Visa?

The H4 visa employment was an important announcement made by President Obama. The Department of Homeland security (DHS) intends to increase the economic stability of the nation by allowing the dependents and H4 spouse of the H1 visa holders to work and the H1 visa holders can extend their stay. The Donald Trump administration also encouraged the skilled foreign workers to work in the USA along with their H1 visa holders.

  • The H4 visa is issued as a non immigrant dependent visa.
  • The H4 visa is issued to the spouse and children below 21 years of the H1 visa holders.
  • The H4 visa holders can study, live, and work in the US with this visa status.
  • The H4 visa status authorizes to get a driving license.
  • You can open bank accounts with the H4 visa status.
  • You can receive a social security number.
  • You can get a tax id.

Advantages of holding the H4 visa EAD:

You will benefit by holding an H4 visa EAD.

  • The H4 EAD holder may opt to work full-time or part-time.
  • The H4 Visa holder may work with any employer.
  • The H4 EAD will let you work in any field and any position
  • You can start your own business with the H4 EAD.
  • You need not have a job offer on hand to hold the H4 EAD.
  • There is no cap or quota on the H4 dependent visa.
  • There is no specific deadline to apply for an H4 dependent spouse visa.

How to get H4 Visa?

You can get H4 visa by following these simple steps:

For those living outside the US:

  • You should fill the online form DS-160, print the barcode an bring it along with you for the interview. If you are taking your fiancée with you, then you have to file K1/2 along with DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, DS-3032.
  • You can select the US consulate from the list of US Consulates in India depending on your state where you reside.
  • Some US embassies need digital photograph upload. If a digital photo upload is not required, then a photograph will be taken at the visa application centre (VAC)
  • Pay a fee of $190 and save the receipt. You can make NEFT payment, IMPS payment or over the counter cash payments in any Axis Bank or Citi bank branches in India.
  • You have to disclose the passport details.
  • The correct address where you will reside in the USA
  • Schedule an appointment with the US embassy as soon as possible. You will receive a letter of confirmation from the USS embassy for the interview. You have to schedule an appointment for Biometrics and the visa interview.
  • A photocopy of the primary H visa holder
  • Fill the I-539 form to apply for a change in status with the USCIS to get the H4 visa status.
  • Once a confirmation mail is received, give Biometrics at the application support center at your nearest center.
  • You will receive H4 approval notice after the completion of the Biometrics.
  • You will receive I-94 which states the validity of the H4 status.

What documents do I need for a h4 visa?

The H4 visa applicant has to submit the following documents to the visa officer:

  • A visa interview appointment letter and a copy of the Form G-1145(online notification of the application acceptance)
  • You should bring the form DS-160 – barcode printed for the interview.
  • A passport – H4 visa applicant and the H1 visa holder
  • Two Passport-size photograph
  • Receipt of the fee paid details
  • The H1B visa holder’s form I-797 photocopy
  • Marriage certificate in case of spouse and birth certificate in case of children
  • Salary slips of theH1 visa holder from the current employer
  • Documents to prove H4 status – I-94, I-797
  • Birth certificate or government-issued identity proof along with the visa issued by the foreign consulate.

What is h1 and h4 visa?

The H1 visa allows the foreign workers to work temporarily in the United States in specialty occupations. The H1 permit is issued under the immigration and nationality act of section 101. The graduate-level workers, possessing technical and professional expertise in the domains of computer science, finance, architecture, accounts, mathematics, medicine etc. The H1 visa immigrants can work in the same domain as their degree. The employer (from the United States) petitions for six years. The H1 B visas have a cap of 85,000. To be eligible for the H1B visa, the following criteria should be met.

  • The H1B visa applicant should be a graduate or higher degree holder.
  • The qualifications needed as asper the industry demands
  • Only some special qualifications can perform the job.
  • The employer requires a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification to perform the duties.

The H1B is granted initially for three years and then extended for a maximum period of six years. The H1B visa has dual intent. The visa holders can work on a non immigrant visa, and while working, they can apply for a green card. They can bring their dependents under H4 visa status.

The H4 Visa:

The H4 visa is issued to the spouse and children (below 21) who are dependents of the H1 B holders by the USCIS. It is issued to the dependent family members who wish to travel along with the H1B holders. As long as the H1B visa holder’s permit is valid, the H4 visa holder can continue their stay with their spouse. They can open a bank account, get a valid driving license, study in the US, and even work in the US if they get employment authorization document (EAD).

If you have EAD, then you need not have Labor condition application (LCA), and petition – form I-129. The H4 holder can take up any number of jobs, and work in any sector.

Who is Eligible for an H4 Visa?

The H4 visa is issued to the immediate family of the H visa holder. The term immediate family includes spouses and children. Children should be below 21 years of age. The H- Visa includes an H1B visa, HIB1 visa, H2A visa, H2B visa, and H3 visa.

Eligibility for the H4 visa holder:

The USCIS lets the H4 visa holders work with EAD, and this ordinance was passed in 2014-15. Those who wish to apply for a work permit as a dependent of an H1B holder, they must qualify for EAD. The spouse of the H4 visa intent must hold H1B visa status, and it must be valid at the time of application of H4.

The following criteria must be met to be eligible for an H4 work permit.

The H4 visa based on EAD is given to those who fall in either of the two categories:

  • The H1B visa spouse must receive approval of I-140 Petition for the immigrant worker. If the I-140 petition is revoked, then the h4 visa holder is not entitled to work.      The category of the I-140 (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) does not matter for the approval of the H4 visa. The time spent by the dependent of the H1B visa holder in the USA does not matter as long as the 1-140 is approved. The H4-EAD can be applied as soon as the I-140 is approved. There is no waiting time.
  • The H1B status visa holder must extend I-140 under AC-21 rule in one-year increments. The H4 EAD can be applied if the perm labour certification or I-140 application is not refused or denied.

If the H1B holder came to the US as a student and lived for more than six years, this does not qualify for the dependent on applying for the H4 EAD. H1 B should have an approved I-140.

How long is h4 visa valid?

  • The H4 visa is valid for three years. The eligibility lasts until the principal H1 holder has an approved I-129. In an unfortunate situation where the H1B holder is out of a job, then a grace period of 60 days will be given.
  • As per the USCIS, the H4 visa holder can file for extension within 180 days of the EAD expiration.
  • In case the EAD id lost, stolen or damaged then you can replace by filing new I-765 along with the requisite fee.

Can h4 visa holders work?

  • The H4 Visa holders are eligible to work under EAD- employment authorization program after 2015. The H4 visa holders can work if they apply for I-765 or employment authorization card (EAD).
  • The UCSIS proposed eliminating work for the H4 visa holders, but it is still under review, and no decision has been taken. The EAD permits the H4 visa holders to work in any sector in the USA, and they need not possess specialized skills like the H1 visa holder.
  • The H3 visa holders can work if the H1B holders have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. In this case, the H4B dependent can file for EAD application whose H1B holder has applied for a green card.
  • H1B status is granted to them under sections 106(a) and 106(b). In this case, the H1B spouse has applied for permanent residence and has an extension beyond the first six years.
  • Under H4 visa status, you can have unrestricted work authorization which is not limited to any single employer. You can even take up self-employment.

Other options for H4 visa holders.

  • You can take up full-time employment and obtain an employer-sponsored H1B visa.
  • You can Study on the H4B visa status.
  • You can change the status from H4 to F1 visa and study.
  • You can volunteer to contribute to your area of work under H4 visa status.

How much is h4 visa fee?

The Visa fee payable for the H4 visa is $190, which is approximately 11, 000 INR. This amount should be paid before scheduling the interview for the visa. The payment can be made through debit cards electronically via NEFT or IMPS transactions or cash payments in Citi Bank or Axis bank counters. The visa fee can also be paid at DRUK bank. The Visa fee paid is non-refundable.

Apart from the visa fee, The H4 visa applicant should file Form I-765 for employment authorization and pay a fee of $410 to the embassy. A biometric appointment will cost $85. Therefore, the total cost incurred is $495.

Does H 4 visa get rejected?

There is a possibility of the H4 visa getting rejected. Some common reasons are:

  • Refusal under 212(a)(4): The refusal under this section means that the visa officer is not convinced about the sponsor’s financial condition. The sponsor may not be in a position to support the dependents. The visa officer apprehends that the H4 visa holder may become a liability to the US government.
  • State poverty line: If the primary sponsor’s income is below the state poverty line, then the H4 visa may be rejected.
  • 214(b) refusal: The H4 visa can be denied under 214(b), which doubts the intentions of settling in the US and not returning to home town. The purpose is also questioned on the financial sources and the affordability to stay in the US.
  • 221(g): The refusal under 221(g) can be if the salary or wage is less than the prevailing wage standards of a specified area where the H4 visa holder intends to go. If the Department of Labor for labour condition approval is not met, the H4 visa is likely to be refused.

How to get your visa transferred from H1B to H4 visa status

The H1B worker may face the difficult situation of losing their jobs, or employment term ending, or the completion of the maximum period of six years. In such a case, can change your visa status from H1B to H4 visa status. You should start applying as soon as possible as the visa status change can take 2-3 months. The following documents are required for the visa status change:

  • Passport copies for H1 B visa holder and spouse
  • Duly filled Form I-159 which will cost you $455
  • Submission of Form- I-94, which is an arrival and departure form. The submission of this form will cost you $6.
  • Payslips
  • HIB visa copy
  • Approval notice of the H1 b visa
  • Evidence of your spouse’s employment or H1B status
  • Marriage certificate photocopy

If your H4 visa is approved, then you must stop working under H1 visa status. However, this does not mean that your H1 has expired. You should apply for H4 EAD which will allow you to work.

The USCIS may need additional information from you to approve the visa status change. In case they need more information, they may ask for RFE – Request for evidence. This may delay the visa status change further.

If you are applying the first time for the H4 visa, then you are advised to consult an immigration attorney to smooth H4 visa processing in compliance with the immigration law.

Topics: USA, Dependent Visa

K Nagaraju
K Nagaraju

Nagaraj is a veteran in processing Canada visas. He proves as the best professional to handle all PR visa process.

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