H4 Dependent Visa Application and Restrictions
If you are looking to come to the US as an H-1B visa holder then you may wonder whether you can bring family members with you when you move. Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes! If you have a spouse or dependent child under the age of 21, they can join you in the US via the H4 visa route.
The H4 visa route is ideal for the dependent family members of H-1B visa holders who are working in the US. In this article, we will look at the H4 visa to help decide if it’s the right option for your family. As well as discussing the visa, we will also look at the application process in more detail.
Who Is Eligible for An H4 Dependent Visa?
The H4 visa was designed to be used by the dependent family members of H-1B visa holders. These are visa holders who are coming to the US to work and the H4 is offered so that family members could join their working family members during their stay. There are two types of family members who can use the H4 visa route to join their H-1B family members in the US: Spouses and dependent children (under 21 years of age). Unfortunately, because of the strict rules laid out by USCIS, these are the only members who may join an H-1B visa holder working in the US.
To be eligible for an H4 visa, the dependent will need to lodge their application once their family member has been approved for their H-1B visa. As well as lodging an application, the family member will also need to provide significant proof of their relationship to the H-1B applicant. Depending upon the relationship, you will need to provide documents to prove the marriage is legitimate (spouses) or a birth certificate for a child under 21 years of age or both if you are bringing a spouse and children.
For marriages, USCIS will ask you to provide significant evidence of the relationship. This may include objects from your wedding (DVDs, wedding photos and invitations, etc.). As many intended applicants try to defraud the system using fake relationships, there is an emphasis on proving a marriage is genuine. The onus is on you to prove that your relationship is genuine. If there is any doubt, it is unlikely that USCIS will approve your H4 application.
How to Apply for An H4 Dependent Visa
To apply for an H4 visa, you will need to make an application online with USCIS. You will need to fill out Form DS-160 - Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Once you have completed the form, you will be provided with a barcode number. This number is then used to progress your application through the various stages.
When you lodge your DS-160 form, you will need to pay the $190 fee online. Once this has been paid, you will receive a receipt for your payment. It is important that you keep hold of this receipt as it is one of the documents that will be submitted during the application process.
After lodging your DS-160 form and paying the relevant fee, it is now time to schedule your immigration interview. This interview will be held at your local embassy/consulate in your country of origin and will help to ensure that you are eligible to join your family member in the US. It is worth scheduling this as soon as possible as there are only so many spaces to go around and they generally fill up very fast. Also, the quicker you have the interview, the faster your application will be processed.
The last step before taking your visa interview is compiling your application documents. Depending on which relation you are, you will need to provide the following documents to support your application:
- A completed DS-160 application form
- Your valid passport with at least one blank page remaining
- Two US visa approved photographs
- Receipt proving payment of fees
- Photocopy of the primary visa holder’s visa
- Photocopy of the primary visa holder’s I-129 form, I-797 form, and the Labor Certification Application (LCA)
- A copy of the primary visa holder’s passport
- A letter of employment for the primary visa holder
- Copies of the primary visa holder’s letters of previous work experience
- Recent pay stubs and tax filing information, if the primary visa holder is already working in the U.S
- A birth certificate for any children on the application
- Marriage certificate and other proofs of marriage - such as wedding photographs where you and your spouse are clearly seen in the pictures or a wedding DVD. You may also need to provide additional proof such as receipts and wedding invitations.
Once you have compiled this information, you are now ready to submit your application and attend your visa interview.
Application Processing Times for An H4 Dependent Visa?
Like most applications, the processing time for an H4 visa can be lengthy. The time that the application takes varies between countries and also because of the primary visa holder’s situation. We would urge you to ask your local embassy during your visa interview how long they expect the application to take. As they have the most current information, their answer should be relatively accurate.
If you apply at the same time as the primary visa holder, your applications will probably be processed together, this may be a positive or a negative depending on their eligibility. If you need more advice on the H4 visa route, please get in touch with our immigration lawyers and let us help with your query. We are experts at bringing families together in the US and can help with any query you have.