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Business Immigration

Unlocking the H-4 Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

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:

  1. Relationship Spouses or unmarried children under 21 of H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders qualify.
  2. Valid Primary Visa Status The primary work visa holder must maintain lawful status.
  3. Financial Support Evidence of financial support from the primary visa holder is necessary due to employment restrictions.
  4. 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:

  1. Eligibility Check Ensure you meet H-4 visa criteria as a spouse or child of an H-1B visa holder.
  2. Document Collection Collect required documents, including a valid passport, visa application form, and embassy-specific documents.
  3. Form Filling Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form (DS-160) and pay the visa fee.
  4. Interview Scheduling Schedule a visa interview at the relevant U.S. Embassy or consulate.
  5. Visa Interview Attend the interview, submit documents, and await the consular officer’s decision.
  6. 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!

Jeelani Law Firm, PLC

JEELANI LAW FIRM, PLC is regarded as one of the top immigration law firms in the industry. We handle all immigration matters including family based adjustment of status/green card cases, citizenship filings, representation of businesses and employees when filing L1A/B Petitions, H1B petitions, and Permanent Labor petitions. Our firm also litigates immigration cases dealing with delayed adjudications as well as appellate matters before the U.S. Federal Courts, U.S. Immigration Courts, USCIS and the BIA. Given the complex nature of immigration law, inexperience can lead to many mistakes which may result in delays, denials, and loss of filing fees and valuable time. Contact our office and we will take care of the rest.