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H1B Dependent Visa- A Detailed Insight
February 10, 2022
5 mins
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The 3 key takeaways from this article are:

Before venturing into the details of the dependents, you may take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with everything about H-1B visas.

H1B Dependent Visa- All Your Queries Answered

Can H1B visa holders bring spouses to the US along with them?

The answer to this question is a resounding Yes! As per the US immigration law, H1B visa holders are eligible to bring their family members to the US and stay with them. Professionals, business experts, entrepreneurs, and students can opt from various available visa programs in the US to bring their family members to the US. One such dependent visa program H1B workers can rely on is the H4 visa program.

Besides spouses of H1B visa holders, who else are considered as dependents?

When we talk about dependents, there is often confusion about who all can be considered as a dependent of the H1B visa holder. Besides the spouse, the children of the H1B visa holder can also be considered as dependents.

For an H4 visa program, a "child" of an H1B visa holder refers to the H1B worker's daughter or son who is under the age of 21 and also unmarried. A "spouse" refers to the H1B visa holder's wife or husband in a legally recognized marriage. The U.S. visa law does not approve or recognize common-law relationships. Hence, if you are not legally married to your partner, you will not be eligible to apply for your spouse's H1B dependent visa.

All About H4 Visas for Spouses of H1B Visa Holders

H-4 visas are the special category visas provided to both the spouses and children (aged under 21 years) of H1B employees. With this visa, the dependents of the H1B visa holder can stay along with them throughout the time period of their stay in the US. The validity of the H1B dependent visa for spouse completely depends on the H1B employee's visa status. Hence, the dependents will lose their H4 status if the employee no longer holds a valid H1B status. It is one of the most important H1B spouse visa requirements.

Also Read: How to Check Your H1B Visa Status Online

Understanding the H4 Visa Holders Status in the US

The H1B spouse visa, better known as the H4 visa, allows the dependents to work, live, and study in the US. An H4 visa holder can open a bank account, obtain a social security number, and get a driving license in their name. H4 visa holders can also study in the US on a full-time or part-time basis in any field of their choice. They can even volunteer for non-profit organizations.

In the case of a child dependent, as soon as they turn 21, they lose their H4 visas. Most probably, they will be studying at the age of 21. Hence, they can go for an F1 visa for international students and continue studying in the US.

Are Parents of H1B Workers Allowed to Get an H1B Dependent Visa?

Unfortunately, no. There is no H1B dependent visa for parents. They will not be considered as dependents of the H1B visa holder. Instead, they can visit the H1B visa holder using a B2 visa. The B2 visa is a non-immigrant, temporary visa that allows the visa holder to travel to the United States for a short time period. This can be used for short visits, tourism purposes, and business needs. The B2 visa validity is only for 6 months. However, it can be extended using 6-month increments.

Analyzing the Work Opportunities for Spouses of H1B Visa Holders

An H4 visa holder has plenty of opportunities waiting for them in the United States. But, can dependents of H1B visa holders work in the US? The answer is yes. But, there are a few limitations too. One of the most noteworthy barriers is that they cannot work legally in the United States.

But, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services( USCIS ) implemented a new regulation on May 26, 2015. As per this new regulation, H4 visa holders are permitted to work in the United States under certain conditions:

  • If the H1B visa holder applies for a green card and gets an I40 approval

or

  • If the H1B visa holder extends their H1B status beyond the 6-year limit

Under both the above conditions, the dependent can work in the United States without any restrictions. And that means the H4 visa holder can either work for an employer or start a business on their own.

In either case, if the H4 visa holder wants to take up a paid employment opportunity, then they need to first apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document). The EAD will be issued for the exact duration as their spouse's H1B visa. Once the H4 visa holder becomes eligible to apply for an EAD and gets it, they will be provided with a social security number.

Also Read: H4 EAD - Useful Insights For You

H4 Visa- The Procedure to Get an H1B Dependent Visa

The process for applying for an H4 visa will vary based on whether the dependent spouse plans to accompany the H1B visa holder now or at a later date. The H1B visa holder's family member can apply for an H4 visa at their home country's US consulate if they are staying outside the US. The person can apply as soon as the USCIS approves the H1B petition. Thus, the dependents can get their H4 visa at the same time as H1B visa approval or just after that.

To file the H4 visa application, H1B spouses can submit a DS-160 directly at the consulate or the US embassy. The H4 applicant should carry the I-797 of the H1B visa holder along with their recent pay slab details. Other documents required for H4 dependent visas are:

  • Copy of birth certificate (if the applicant is a "child")
  • Copy of marriage certificate (if the applicant is the spouse)
  • Valid passports
  • Form DS-160 - completed and duly signed

While traveling outside the US or while entering the US, H4 visa holders need to carry:

  • Valid passport of the individual
  • Valid H-4 visa stamp
  • Form I-797H approval notice to change the status to H4 or for extension of H4 (if applicable)

Changing or Extending the H4 Visa Status

Dependent spouses can always seek to extend their H4 status or change their non-immigrant status to H4. To do that, dependents need to file an application on Form I-539/I-539A along with the biometrics fees to the USCIS. To get the biometrics done, applicants will have to attend a biometrics appointment at the designated local office.

Both H4 visa extensions and changes can take weeks or even months to get processed by the USCIS. H4 visa applicants are prohibited from international travel if the application is filed and is pending approval. Hence, it is always better that the petitioner travels back to their home country, files the petition at their US consulate, and then wait till they receive the H4 visa to re-enter the US.

Also Read: H4 to H1B Change of Status - All You Need to Know

TechFetch H1B - One Stop Resource for Everything on H-1B

The H-1B visa process can be a long and complicated journey for most H-1B aspirants. TechFetch H1B strives to simplify this, by providing detailed, up-to-date information, bringing you one step closer to your H-1B dream. Follow us for regular updates.

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

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