The H-4 visa is an important component of U.S. immigration designed for the dependents of certain nonimmigrant workers like H-1B visa holders. In this article, we’ll delve into the complexities of the H-4 visa.
Understanding the H-4 Visa
The H-4 visa, issued by USCIS, caters to dependents, such as spouses and unmarried children under 21, of H-1B and specific nonimmigrant work visa holders. It enables them to join the primary visa holder in the U.S. for the authorized period. H-4 visa holders can also pursue education and, under specific conditions, seek employment authorization.
H-4 Visa Eligibility
Eligibility for an H-4 visa hinges on:
- Relationship Spouses or unmarried children under 21 of H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders qualify.
- Valid Primary Visa Status The primary work visa holder must maintain lawful status.
- Financial Support Evidence of financial support from the primary visa holder is necessary due to employment restrictions.
- Clean Record Applicants must not have a criminal record that bars entry to the U.S.
H-4 Visa Timeline
Processing times vary but usually mirror the primary work visa holder’s timeline. If applying together, your H-4 visa may align with your spouse’s H-1B processing. Applying separately depends on embassy workload. You may receive your visa once the primary work visa is approved.
H-4 Visa Application Process
Typically, the H-4 visa application process includes:
- Eligibility Check Ensure you meet H-4 visa criteria as a spouse or child of an H-1B visa holder.
- Document Collection Collect required documents, including a valid passport, visa application form, and embassy-specific documents.
- Form Filling Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form (DS-160) and pay the visa fee.
- Interview Scheduling Schedule a visa interview at the relevant U.S. Embassy or consulate.
- Visa Interview Attend the interview, submit documents, and await the consular officer’s decision.
- Visa Receipt If approved, you’ll receive your H-4 visa.
Can H-4 visa holders work in the U.S.?
Generally, no. Employment authorization is possible via Form I-765, leading to an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD acts as an “open work permit,” enabling H-4 visa holders to work without employer or job restrictions. Details are available in Boundless’ comprehensive EAD guide.
Contact Jeelani Law Firm for assistance with your H-1B and H-4 visa applications!