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The H4 EAD Process: Documents Checklist & Steps to Apply
April 27, 2022
4 mins
A mockup illustration of an employee authorization card for U.S. H4 visa holders against an American flag background

In this article, you will learn about the following topics:

  • H4 EAD Filing Requirements
  • EAD Documents Checklist
  • How to apply for H4 EAD
  • H4 EAD Premium Processing

All H1B holders can work for US-based employers during the H1B tenure. According to the USCIS regulations, they can bring their spouse and children below 21 years to live with them in the US on an H4 visa. Earlier, H1B dependents or H4 visa holders were not allowed to work in the US. However, this rule changed when the H4 Visa EAD rule came into effect on May 26th, 2015.

Before you start reading about H4 EAD filing process, read to know about H4 EAD & its Significance to Dependent Spouses.

What is H4 EAD & What is its Significance?

The H4 EAD or Employment Authorization Document allows certain H4 visa holders to work in the US as long as their spouses have a valid H1B status. To get an H4 EAD, you must apply for the document just like you applied for the regular H4 EAD. The process involves:

  • Meeting certain requirements
  • Submitting Form I-765
  • Paying the H4 EAD fees

To go ahead with H4 EAD filing, the H4 dependent's H1B spouse must be:

  • The principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140
  • Holders of a valid H1B status under Sections 106 A and B of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 as amended by the Justice Appropriations Authorizations Act or AC21

If the H1B holder fulfills the above-mentioned requirements, you can proceed with the application process. As the next step, you must submit some documents given by the USCIS. Take a look at the documents checklist given below.

Documents Required for H4 EAD

To file for an H4 EAD, then you must submit:

  • H4 EAD Fee
  • EAD Application form
  • e-Notification form
  • Copies of Govt. issued Photo Identity
  • Current H4 Visa Status Proofs
  • H4 EAD Eligibility Documents
  • Copy of primary H1B Holder's I-140 related I-797 Approval Notice
  • The USCIS FOIA can also be used to request the I-140 information and attach H4 EAD application with the same
  • Approved copy of the H1B visa beyond six years under AC 21
  • H4-H1B relationship documents (marriage certificate)
  • Recent photos
  • H1B spouse documents

Once all the required documents are collected, you can go ahead with filing for an H4 EAD. Please look at the step-by-step guide to applying for an H4 EAD.

Also Read: H4 EAD: Eligibility Criteria, Documents Checklist & EAD Renewal

Applying for Your H4 EAD in Four Steps

Step 1: Complete the Application for Employment Authorization or Form I-765

Download Form I-765 from the USCIS website, follow the instructions, and complete it.

Step 2: Pack the H4 EAD application and the required documents

Collect the required documents for H4 EAD and pack them along with your I-765 application form. Please ensure that you submit ONLY THE COPIES. Please DONT SEND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. Please pack your paperwork in the following order:

  • Money order or check on the top
  • Form G-1145 for the e-notification under the check
  • Form G-28, if your attorney is filing below the e-notification form
  • Form I-765 application completed with signature under the G-28 form or the G-1145 if you are self-filing it.
  • Required documentation under the completed I-765 application form

Kindly note that the USCIS recommends using only paper clips and binder clips. Please do not use heavy staples to bind your documents.

Step 3: Mail the H4 EAD Application to the right USCIS Address

You must mail or post the application and document package to the USCIS office once you have created it.

Step 4: Receive the EAD card after getting the receipt

After these steps are complete, the USCIS will send you the receipt notice when it receives your application. You will see the receipt number on the notice. The receipt number can be used to check the status of your case on the USCIS website.

According to the typical processing time for the same form, USCIS will process your application. The H4 EAD timeline will depend on the centre you've applied. The USCIS will send the H4 EAD card once the processing and approval of the EAD have been completed. Your card will contain the C26 Category. This Form I-766 is also known as the EAD card.

H4 EAD and Premium Processing

Does the H4 EAD require biometrics? Yes, it does. If you are filing for H4 Extensions, Biometric information is required while filing for H4 Change of Status using Form I-539. Biometric information is not required for H4 EAD applications. If you apply for only for H4 EAD using Form I-765, USCIS does not require you to provide biometrics.
Premium Processing for H4 EAD
Currently, USCIS does not offer Premium Processing for the H4 EAD applications. The US Congress approved the HR 8337 bill, which added provisions for premium processing of various types of forms like I-539 and I-765 for EAD applications. USCIS has not yet implemented the bill, despite its passage in Congress.
H4 EAD Card Processing Timeline
The USCIS can take anywhere from 2 months to 12 months for H4 EAD processing, depending on the location. For example, the processing center in Texas is faster than in California, which takes about a year to process your H4 EAD. The processing time also depends on the workload in each center.

The Takeaway

It is mandatory to have your EAD approved by the USCIS to work for a US employer. Besides, you can only work until the expiry date specified on your EAD. If you want to renew your EAD, you can go ahead and file Form I-765 upto 120 days before the expiration of your current EAD.

To know more about H4 EAD cost, and other related processes, please check TechFetch H1B.

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

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