On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the H-4 visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers, and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
With the world’s largest economy, which is estimated to reach over $25 trillion in 2024, the United States has a great deal to offer migrant workers from around the world and their family members. On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the H-4 dependant family member visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process.
The non-immigrant H-4 work visa is for dependent family members of H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders enabling them to enter the US and stay with the principal visa holder. H-4 visa holders are able to live, enrol in education, apply for a driving license, and open a bank account in the US. Depending on the type of visa held by the principal visa holder, it may be possible for a spouse on an H-4 visa to seek authorization for employment, however, this is not possible in all cases (as we explain later on this page). In addition, unlike other H visas, there is no cap on the number of H-4 visas available.
Only immediate dependant family members (i.e., spouses and children) are eligible for an H-4 visa. In the case of children, dependant means that they must not be financially independent, living an independent life, married, or over 21.
The first stage in applying for an H-4 visa is to complete and submit a DS-160: Nonimmigrant Visa Application. The DS-160 is completed online – the USCIS recommends that you print and retain a copy of the DS-160 barcode page to ease of reference to your application. Once completed, you will need to:
Once you have had your interview, a decision will then be made on your case. As the USCIS state, “Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a non-immigrant visa”. As such, it is essential that the information you provide both in writing and verbally is correct, complete, and accurate.
Depending on your exact circumstances, you may be asked to provide some or all of the following documents to support your H-4 application:
The USCIS does not set specific questions which will be asked; hence you can expect to be asked about any aspect of your application. If you are a spouse, the interviewer will likely want to clarify that you have a genuine and subsisting relationship with your partner. They may ask you about how and when you met your spouse, how long you have lived together, and the extent to which you live a shared life. They may also ask about your plans to live together in the US.
As an H-4 visa holder, you will be able to remain in the US for the same amount of time as the principal visa holder. As such, the immigration authorities will match the expiry date on your H-4 visa with that of the principal H visa. If they leave the US before their visa is due to expire, you will need to leave or apply for another visa.
H-4 visa holders can attend school, apply for a US driving license, open a bank account, and in certain cases, dependant spouses can seek employment authorization by completing and filing the required form. Authorization to work in the US is only available to an H-4 dependant spouse of an H1-B visa holder. The USCIS rules state:
“You are eligible if you are the H-4 dependent spouse of an H-1B non-immigrant if your H-1B non-immigrant spouse:
To apply for work authorization, you will need to complete and submit Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). It is important that you do not start working before you receive clearance; doing so may breach the terms of your H-4 visa. You will need to wait until you receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD/Form I-766) from USCIS.
Reiss Edwards has the resources and expertise to assist with all aspects of US immigration. If you need assistance with your H-4 Specialty Work visa application for US or any other immigration matter, feel free to contact our Immigration Solicitor for help.
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