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H4 to H1B Change of Status - All You Need to Know
May 7, 2022
4 mins
The United States of America's visa document and a black pen has a wavy USA flag behind them.

In this article, you will read about:

  • Eligibility criteria for change of status from H4 to H1B
  • Documentation
  • The process

H1B visa holders bring their dependents to the US on the H4 visa status. As a dependent visa, the H4 status is subject to the H1B visa status in all respects. This leaves the H4 holder in a slightly uncertain position. If they want to seek employment as an H4 holder, they need to show that the H1 visa is current and legal. Many H4 holders apply for a change of status from H4 to H1 to strengthen their prospects in the US. Transitioning from an H4 to H1B visa can be challenging, so we have compiled a comprehensive guide on the subject to help you through the process.

Eligibility for Converting H4 to H1

If you are an H4 visa holder who wishes to apply for a change of status to H1, you need:

1. An offer of employment from an H1B employer and be selected in the H1B lottery

2. A job offer from an employer who runs a cap-exempt company such as:

  • A research organization of the government or other non-private organization
  • A not-for-profit entity providing higher education
  • A non-private entity affiliated with an institute of higher education

3. A previous H1B lottery win, in which case you will be H1B cap-exempt.

Change of Status From H4 to H1: Documentation

The transition from H4 to H1 can be challenging. There is a lot of documentation involved, similar to what is required for an H1B visa petition, which has been discussed subsequently. In addition, you will also need:

  • An Application to Extend or Change Non-immigrant Status - Form I-539
  • Documents to prove that you have legal employment status, including an LCA, a sponsor's letter, and an employment letter

Let's take a look at the checklist of documents required to apply for H-1B visas through COS while you are within the US:

Copies of:

  • Relevant passport pages: front and visa copy pages
  • Older H1B approvals
  • Updated and detailed resume
  • Relevant educational documents like degrees or certificates
  • Credential evaluation reports
  • A recent W2
  • Latest payslips
  • Form I-94 card

Personal details, including:

  • Residential address in the United States
  • Home country residential address
  • Contact number
  • Other contact details, like email ID
  • Your SSN, or Social Security PIN

Employment details, including:

  • Current job role at sponsoring US company
  • Job roles and responsibilities description

Photo specification for H-1B visa:
A recent photograph of the applicant will also have to be included. It will have to meet the USCIS photo requirements, including:

  • Square dimensions, in-color
  • Photo size: 600×600 to 1200×1200 pixels
  • File format: JPEG
  • File size: less than 240 KB.

If you are applying for H1B from outside the US border, you will require the following:
Copies of:

  • Your most current passport with a sufficient validity period
  • Educational documents, including degrees, certificates, etc.
  • Employment letter from current employer
  • Appointment letters or experience letters of previous positions held
  • LCA for the current H1B job
  • Proof of taxes filed by the company
  • Letter from the Department of Justice
  • Letter addressed to the Indian Consular General
  • Job roles and responsibilities description
  • US license - temporary or current
  • Updated CV with evidence of qualifications, detailed
  • Proof of payment of fees for processing and issuance - demand drafts
  • Two to three copies of current passport size, colored photographs
  • Marriage and birth certificates, if there are dependents

How to Transform H4 to H1B Visa

Your application process for an H4 to H1B change of status will be similar to the H1B consular application process. The main difference is that Form I-539 for extension or change of status will be used. Your sponsoring employer will be responsible for initiating and carrying forward the application process.

The employer must submit:

  • An I-129
  • Labor Condition Application, or LCA report
  • Proof that the offered job role is a "specialty occupation."
  • Proof of candidate's qualifying educational qualifications and specialized training
  • Evidence of qualifying licenses, official permit, or certification to work in the job role, if required
  • Once all the right documents are submitted, H4 to H1B change of status processing time can vary depending on the center you are applying at

Also read: H1B to H4 Change of Status

In conclusion

Transferring status from H4 to H1 can be tough for H4 holders, but it is worth the effort if they are successful. If the H4 can show or acquire sufficient credentials and experience and find a dedicated cap-exempt H1B sponsor, they should take the plunge. If you receive an H4 to H1B change of status denied update, you may have to continue in the H4 status until you can make a stronger application and try again.

 Visit TechFetch H1B to find more information on change of status from other visa to H1B visa.

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

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