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H1B to H4 Change of Status
May 7, 2022
7 mins
Graphical illustration of a world cloud collage depicting H1B visa concept in the shape of a USA country with the American flag in the background

In this article, we have discussed the following topics:

  • Eligibility criteria for COS from H1 to H4
  • H1 to H4 COS process
  • Processing time & fee
  • H1 to H4 application rejection

Before you start reading more about H1 to H4 change of status, first know about the H1B Visa Duration Information.

What is the H4 Visa?

Did you know that you get a 60-day window of time or until the I-94 expires to find a new job or extend your visa if your H1B is about to expire or if you lose your job while on a valid H1B status? Hence, you need not hit the panic button if you find yourself in either situation. One of the best options is to apply for a Change of Status from H1B to H4 and improve your chances of staying with your family in the US if you have reached the end of your H1B validity.

The H4 visa is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to the H1B holder's spouse, or unmarried children. The H4 visa is tied to the H1B visa. In other words, H4 is valid only if H1B is also valid. If the H1B's validity expires or is revoked by the USCIS, the H4 status also stands terminated.

So, if you want to extend your stay in the US by changing your status from H1 to H4, you must meet certain criteria, which include the following:

  • Your spouse must have a valid H1B visa.
  • You are in a legal bonafide marriage with your spouse.
  • You will not work when the USCIS approves your H4 visa.

As always, any visa process requires a long list of documentation that either you or your employer must submit to the USCIS to get the process going. COS from H1 to H4 is no different. What does this process entail? Let's find out.

Also Read: The H1B Change of Status Fact-sheets

H1 to H4 Change of Status: How the Process Goes

Generally, the USCIS takes a long time to process any Change of Status petition and arrive at a decision. Hence, you must apply for COS at least 2 or 3 months before your current H1B visa expires. You will need the following documentation to file your petition.

Document Checklist for COS from H1B to H4 visa:

  • Form I-539 to change the non-immigrant status
  • Current H1B visa approval notice.
  • Copy of your spouse's valid H1B visa
  • Copy of your spouse's H1B visa approval notice
  • Your current H1B visa approval notice
  • Recent Form I-94 Arrival/Departure records
  • Previous year's pay stubs for you and your spouse

Your H1B does not expire even if you obtain your H4. However, you are not permitted to continue your job. If you wish to do so, you must apply for an Employment Authorization Document, which allows you to work on a valid H4 visa.

Processing Time & Fee

The H1B to H4 Change of Status Processing Time takes about 2 or 3 months. This is the general processing time, even if your case has no issues and you've submitted all the necessary documents. Sometimes, the USCIS may send you an RFE or Request for Evidence. In that case, your COS processing time will be further delayed. Hence, you must send the necessary details as soon as possible if you receive an RFE.

Fee Details

The filing fee for Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status) is $370. There is an additional $85 for the biometric screening test and travel expenses. You may also incur attorney expenses if you hire one. The biometric screening test is compulsory for all beneficiaries included in the petition.

What Happens if H1B to H4 COS is Rejected?

If the USCIS rejects your application, you can:

  • Apply for a new type of visa before the current visa expires.
  • Return to your home country and resume your immigration attempts
  • Overstay your visa and face removal procedures.

Wrapping Up

Applying for a Change of Status to H4 is one of the best options to extend your stay in the US, even if your H1B validity is close to expiring. With a valid H4 visa, you can remain in the US and even start working again! Check TechFetch H1B for legitimate information on H1B visas and passport updates.

**Disclaimer: All H1B processes are subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS official website for the latest details.

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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