H-4 visas are available for certain family members of individuals who hold H-1, H-2, and H-3 visas. The H-4 visa allows certain family members to live in the United States along with their family member who holds a H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa. Thus, in order to be approved for a H-4 visa, your family member must hold one of the above visas. For example, a H-1B visa is a type of H-1 visa. Thus, certain family members of a H-1B visa holder will qualify for a H-4 visa.
What family members qualify for a H-4 visa?
If your spouse or parent holds a H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa, you may qualify for a H-4 visa. If your parent holds one of these visas, you must be under the age of 21 to qualify for a H-4 visa. Individuals qualify for H-1, H-2, or H-3 visas for different reasons. Among these reasons include a spouse or parent working temporarily or seasonally in the U.S. as well as a spouse or parent doing specialty work.
What is the process for obtaining a H-4 Visa?
A dependent should apply for a H-4 visa at the same time the family member applies for his or her visa, or as soon as his or her family member’s visa is approved. If you plan to apply for a H-4 visa, it is recommended you apply as soon as you can. Doing so makes the process smoother because USCIS can process you and your family member’s visa petitions together, which can allow you to arrive in the U.S. at the same time as your family member.
There is no due date or timing requirement to file for the H-4 visa. However, the process to petition for the H-4 visa must coincide with the process and the approval of your family member’s H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa.
What forms are required to be filled out in the process?
If you are already in the United States, you must complete the form I-539 with USCIS. If you are outside of the United States, you must complete the form DS-160 with the United States Department of State. After completing the necessary form, a H-4 visa applicant must attend an interview with a U.S. government official.
What is the H-4 visa interview like?
The interview with a U.S. government official is nothing to worry too much about. However, it is important that the applicant come to the interview prepared. The official will require that the applicant bring certain documents with and answer certain questions. Both the documents and the questions serve to verify the applicant’s intention to live in the United States and his or her relationship with the primary visa holder.
What documents to bring to the H-4 visa interview?
It is important to bring certain items with you to the interview in order to prove the applicant (yourself or child) qualifies for the H-4 visa as a child or spouse of a H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa holder.
Some of the documents required for the interview include:
- the applicant’s valid passport;
- the applicant’s U.S. visa interview appointment letter (sent when applying for the interview);
- a copy of the primary visa holder’s passport;
- a photograph of the applicant and the primary visa holder together;
- a passport-sized photograph of the applicant;
- a confirmation page of the online DS-160 form;
- a copy of the primary visa holder’s form I-797;
- visa fees receipt;
- a letter from the primary visa holder’s employer stating the relationship between the employer and the primary visa holder;
- the original marriage certificate for a spouse; the original birth certificate for a child; and
- pay stubs from the primary visa holder’s current workplace.
- Finally, the applicant may be asked to produce evidence of the applicant and primary visa holder’s marriage, but this is not always necessary.
What questions are asked at the H-4 visa interview?
Though not all H-4 visa interviews are the same, there are some typical questions the applicant may be asked, including questions about the applicant and about the visa itself.
Questions about the visa itself
Questions asked about the visa are asked to confirm the applicant’s understanding of the process and purpose of the visa, and the applicant’s involvement with the petition to receive the visa.
Some questions asked about the visa include:
- the type of visa applied for;
- why the applicant needs the visa;
- how the applicant received documents; and
- who filed the visa application for the applicant and where they filed it.
Questions about the applicant
Questions asked about the applicant are asked to confirm the applicant’s intention and desire to live in the United States with his or her family member, as well as to verify the relationship between the applicant and his or her family member.
Some questions asked about the applicant include:
- what the applicant plans to do in the United States;
- who the applicant intends to live with in the United States;
- who will financially support the applicant while living in the United States; and
- where the applicant is living currently.
Questions about the applicant’s spouse and marriage
Some questions may also be asked about the applicant’s spouse and their marriage, or the child.
Some questions about the applicant’s spouse and marriage include:
- what is the birthday of the applicant’s spouse;
- how long have the applicant and his or her spouse been married;
- when and how did the applicant meet his or her spouse;
- who is the employer of the applicant’s spouse;
- is the marriage registered;
- was the marriage arranged or not;
- what sort of work does the applicant’s spouse do; and
- what employer is sponsoring the spouse?
How much does it cost to get a H-4 visa?
If you are already in the United States, the filing fee for the form I-539 with USCIS is $370. If you are outside of the United States, the filing fee for the form DS-160 with the United States Department of State is $160.
How long is the H-4 visa valid?
The H-4 visa is valid for the same length of time as the visa granted to the primary visa holder. For example, H-1B visas are valid for three years with the possibility of an additional three year extension. Thus, a H-4 visa holder whose spouse or parent is a H-1B visa holder may stay in the U.S. for three years, if that is how long the H-1B visa holder stays, or six years, if the H-1B visa holder receives a three year extension on his or her visa.
Can a H-4 visa holder work in the United States?
Not all H-4 visa holders are eligible to work in the United States. A H-4 visa holder is eligible for work authorization if his or her spouse has an approved form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers) or his or her spouse has been granted H-1B status for seeking employment based lawful permanent residence.
What is the process for obtaining work authorization with a H-4 visa?
H-4 visa holders who want to work in the United States and meet the above criteria must file form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. A H-4 visa holder must receive employment authorization to work in the United States, including freelance, part-time, or entrepreneurship.
H-4 visa holders must also provide the U.S. government with documents that prove he or she is eligible to apply for and receive work authorization.
These documents include:
- a copy of the H-4 visa holders current form I-797 approval notice for form I-539;
- a previous Employment Authorization Document, if applicable;
- a copy of form I-94 that shows the H-4 visa holders admission as a H-4 nonimmigrant or the last approved extension; a birth certificate with photo identification;
- a copy of the H-4 visa holders passport; a copy of the H-4 visa holders marriage certificate;
- a national identity document with the H-4 visa holder’s photo;
- a visa issued by a foreign consulate or embassy;
- proof of eligibility via the approved I-140 form from the spouse or a copy of the H-1B spouse’s passport, current or prior form I-797 for form I-129, and prior forms I-94; and
- two identical 2-inch by 2-inch passport-style color photographs of the H-4 visa holder.
Once a H-4 visa holder receives work authorization, he or she is authorized to work for any employer.
Can a H-4 visa holder attend school?
Children who are in the United States on a H-4 visa can enroll in school, including primary, secondary, and post-secondary schooling.
What can a H-4 visa holder do while in the U.S.?
H-4 visa holders can get a driver’s license, open a bank account, and use debit cards and credit cards. H-4 visa holders must apply for work authorization if they want to be employed while living in the United States.