Who is it for: H-4 visas are granted to the dependent spouses and children under 21 years old of H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B and H-3 visa holders. These visas were created to support the goal of attracting and retaining highly trained and skilled foreign workers to the United States.
H-4 visa holders are allowed to remain in the United States for the same duration as the primary holder’s visa duration.
If a spouse also has a U.S. employer who will petition for a visa on their behalf, instead of filing for an H-4 visa, they may also apply for an H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B visa.
Check Your Eligibility
Parents are not considered dependents and are not eligible to receive an H-4 visa under a primary H visa holder’s status.
Immigrant or Nonimmigrant visa: Nonimmigrant visa
Duration: The duration for H-4 visas will vary. An H-4 visa is directly tied to the primary H category holder’s visa with few exceptions, it will be for the same duration of time.
Details: H-4 visa holders who are dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders who are seeking lawful permanent resident status in the United States are eligible to work in the U.S. These H-4 visa holders are also eligible to receive Social Security numbers as well. Other H-4 visa holders are not afforded the same privileges.
H-4 family members who want to work in the United States may be able to do so by submitting a change of status application and switching their visa to another category that allows employment.
Check Your Eligibility
All H-4 visa holders are allowed to come to the United States and enroll in educational classes and degree programs.
All H-4 visa holders are allowed to get driver’s licenses and open U.S. bank accounts.
H-4 dependent children who are students and want to work while they are in school should apply for an F-1 visa which allows the holder to work part-time while they attend school.
To apply: The H-4 applicant’s petition for a visa is directly tied to the issuance of a primary visa holder’s application.
In H category visa petitions, an employer files a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129. This is a request for a worker to receive an H category visa.
After the Form I-129 has been approved, the worker may use this document to apply for an H category visa which will grant them entry into the United States. At this point, the spouse and children can also apply for an H-4 visa so that they can accompany the primary visa holder to the United States. It is recommended that a spouse and dependent children go for their H-4 visa interview at the same time as the primary visa holder. There are no exceptions, and every person applying for an H-4 visa must attend the visa interview, regardless of their age.
At a port of entry, the primary visa holder and the dependent spouse and children will get a Form I-94 which grants them permission to enter the country and spells out details of their stay.
For more information: For more information, go the US. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ page for H category Visas.
Additional information can also be found here.