The H4 Visa is a visa issued by the United States to a family member who is an H1B, H1B1, H2A, H2B, or H3 visa holder’s dependent. It allows you to visit the United States with the primary visa holder.
A spouse or children under the age of 21 are considered dependents. You must pass an interview test in order to obtain an H4 visa.
This article has a collected list of frequently asked H4 visa questions and answers to assist you in navigating through the process of applying for and obtaining this particular visa.
Top H4 Visa Frequently-asked Questions and Answers
1. What is an H4 Visa?
A. The H4 visa is intended for H1B visa holders’ immediate family members. Holders of H4 visas are permitted to bring their spouse or parent who holds a specialty occupation into the United States. To qualify for an H4 visa, you must submit a change-of-status application via:
i. Inside the United States (with USCIS) or
ii. The Department of State (US consulate abroad).
2. How long can one be in H4 status for?
A. Holders of H4 visas may maintain their status so long as the principal holder (the H1B visa holder). H4s are therefore constrained to the same six-year period as H1Bs. Thankfully, Congress granted additional benefits to H1B and H4 visa holders who had I-140s approved. Holders of H1B visas who are the recipients of specific pending or approved labor certification (PERM) applications or employment-based immigrant visa petitions are permitted to remain in the US for an additional six years. This encourages H1B visa holders to immigrate to the US.
3. What about the H4 change of status and extensions?
A. Keep in mind that if your spouse receives an H1B visa number, the extension or change of status does not necessarily apply to you. You must submit your own application as a dependent in order to obtain H4 status. Here, you must provide proof of the main H1B holder’s legal status as well as proof of your familial relationship. Keep in mind that you can submit your application for a change of status or an extension at the same time as your main H1B application.
4. How to file an H4 extension or change of status?
A. When the primary H1B holder requests an extension or changes in status, the employer must submit Form I-129. The dependents of the H1B holder are not covered by this I-129 petition.
- As a dependent, you must submit your own I-539 form along with an affirmative application. You can use this form to “extend or change status.” If you are currently in H4 status and require an extension, you can do so here. If you are not in H4, just at the time you submit your I-539, you will need to modify your status. Luckily, you can change or extend your status using the same form (I-539).
- First-time dependents must submit an I-539, and subsequent dependents must submit an I-539A. For instance, the dependent spouse would file an I-539, and the two children would each submit an I-539A. Moreover, a check for the filing and biometric fee must be submitted by each applicant. Please visit the USCIS website to view the most recent fees, as they are frequently changed. Please take note that the I-539 and I-129 may be submitted together.
5. Can I change to an H4 if I am in a different status, such as an F1 or L1?
A. In general, you can change your visa status to an H4 visa within the US. To implement this change, you do not need to leave the United States. Bear in mind that this rule has several exceptions. You should contact our office to confirm that you are eligible to change your status. For instance, you might not be able to alter your status inside the United States if your visa has a home residency condition (these are frequently affixed to J-1s).
- Remember that, regardless of your status, you must act in accordance with it while you are inside the United States. As a result, if you are an F-1 student, you must continue your academic studies full-time. As an alternative, if you arrive with H1B status, you must continue working for the person who filed your H1B petition. Here, this occupation must correspond to the conditions specified in the I-129 and Labor Certificate Application (LCA) documents. You must abide by the regulations of the H4 visa status if you switch to it. The conditions of an H4 include prohibitions against employment without proper authorization.
6. How will USCIS determine if a Change of Status is needed or permitted?
A. USCIS will typically evaluate the main reason for your stay based on how you spend the majority of your time. So, you must file a change of status if you no longer pursue L-1 or F-1 activities. Be sure your actions are appropriate for an H4 if you decide to change your status.
You would have two choices here:
i. Departs from the United States and seek re-entry under your new H4 visa classification. Apply for the appropriate visa if necessary. You must obtain the necessary stamping from an American consulate abroad; or
ii. Apply for a change of status (COS) while still in the United States (note not everyone is eligible for COS). Remember that, in this case, changing your status does not entitle you to a passport stamp, including a visa. Your status is the only thing that changes.
7. Are you eligible to change your status in the United States?
A. Consider the following factors to see if you are eligible to change your status:
i. The timing of your COS application.
ii. Whether you have been keeping up a valid status.
iii. Whether your present situation allows for a change in status; and
iv. Consider the new status you want.
Any one of these four aspects can disqualify you from submitting an application for a status change. Alternatively, it may make applying for one inadvisable. It is essential that you conduct a thorough study and take into account all the relevant information.
8. How does traveling into the United States in H4 status from abroad work?
A. You must submit a DS-160 in order to go to the US on an H4. The next step is to pay your visa fee and make a visa stamping appointment at the US Consulate in your area. If you have a valid visa, you are allowed to enter and exit the US while in H4 Status. Even though your H4 visa is set to expire, you can enter the United States and stay for the term of the H1B principal’s I-797 approval.
You don’t need to worry about the process of obtaining an H4 visa if you follow these simple steps. It might seem overwhelming at first to go through this process. However, if you need to know more about it, we will be happy to help. Refer to this blog by EZInterviews about frequently asked questions and answers on H4 Visa if you have any doubts.
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