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Is It Possible for H1B Dependents to Work in the US?
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US companies often offer promising career opportunities to thousands of employees from foreign countries. Most of these workers get access to stay and work in the US through specialized visa programs like H1B.

Usually, when an H1B visa worker comes to the United States, they can bring their dependents also along with them. Dependents refer to the spouse and children of the H1B visa holder. The dependents will be given an H4 visa to stay with the H1B holder. Now, the most common question that arises in people's minds will be, can a spouse of H1B visa work in the United States?

Before moving onto understanding whether H1B dependents can work in the US, read about H1B dependent visa in detail.

Usually, the spouse of an H1B worker cannot work in the US. They are only allowed to accompany the H1B visa holder and stay with them throughout the principal visa holder's work visa validity period. The children are allowed to attend school and continue their education. However, there are a few provisions using which the H1B dependent can work in the US. In this article, we will help you understand those provisions that enable a spouse of H1B visa holder to work in the US.

H4 Visa- Understanding The Eligibility Criteria

The immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years) of H1B visa holders are provided with the H4 visa. The H4 visa is provided by the USCIS to allow the dependents of H1B visa holders to come and stay in the US.

H4 visa holders are allowed to:

  • Study at any US University of their choice. They need not opt for an F-1 student visa before joining any institution.
  • Travel anywhere inside or outside the United States. It is not mandatory that the H1B visa holder should also accompany them.
  • H4 visa holders can get a driver’s license and are allowed to open a local bank account.

How Can H1B Dependent Work in the USA?

Since an H1B spouse work permit is not provided to H4 visa holders, they are not eligible for a Social Security number either. Yes, there is a small exception to this rule. The H4 visa holder can work in the US if they get a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD). For that, the H1B visa holder:

Should be the principal beneficiary of the approved 1-140 Form, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker


Is granted the H1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000. The act was amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21). As per the AC21, H1B visa holders can work and stay in the US beyond the six-year limit of their H1B visa status. Another point to note is that this work permit comes without any restrictions.

Also Read : The H1B Visa Duration Information Hand-book

All About Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

With the help of an EAD, the dependent of an H1B visa holder can work in the US. They can work part-time or full time as per their choice. They can even start their own business in the US.

The validity of EAD depends on the validity of the H4 visa status. It will remain valid as long as the H4 visa remains valid. And, the H4 visa remains valid as long the H1B visa holder's H1B status remains valid. Thus all three are inter-connected. If the H1B visa holder has to renew their visa, then the H4 visa holder will also have to renew their EAD and H4 visa.

In addition to allowing H4 visa dependents to work in the US, the EAD offers a few other benefits too. An H4 visa holder with EAD:

  • Get a social security number
  • Will not have minimum wage restrictions
  • Will not have any restrictions in employment

Are H4 Visa Holders Allowed to Change Their Status?

H4 visa holders are allowed to change their immigration status. They can find an US based employer who can sponsor them and help them get an H1B visa. To change status, the employer can file an I-129 petition and request USCIS to change the H4 visa holder's status to H1B.

The point to note here is the fact that the time spent in H4 status will not be added to the 6 month validity period of the H1B visa. So if a person stayed in the US with an H4 status for 3 years and then got an H1B visa status, they still get the entire 6 year H1B visa validity.

Also read: H4 EAD - Useful Insights For You

TechFetch H1B- Helping Candidates to Find all Information You Need on H-1B

Is your spouse looking for options to find an H1B job? Or, are you an H4 visa holder trying to change status by finding the best H1B employment opportunity? TechFetch H1B is the one you can rely on. Talk to our team to get the best guidance.

**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For the latest information, please refer to the USCIS official website.**

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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