An H-1B employee’s spouse and/or children (under age 21) are normally eligible for H-4 dependent status. Dependents may either file for a change of status to H-4 within the U.S. or obtain their visa outside of the U.S.
If the employee and dependents are in the U.S., they may apply for a change of status. Please include the dependents on the employee questionnaire for the H-1B petition along with a $370 USCIS filing fee (paid by employee).
If the employee and dependents are outside the U.S., OISS will not include any information about them in the initial H-1B petition. After the H-1B petition has been approved, dependents may apply for H-4 visas at a U.S. consulate. Dependents should present a marriage certificate (spouse) or birth certificate (children) at the visa appointment.
H-4 visa holders are allowed to attend school/university.
In most cases, persons with H-4 status may not be employed in the U.S. Spouses in H-4 are eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) when the primary H-1B spouse either:
- Is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition), OR
- Has been granted an extension of his/her H-1B status beyond the standard six-year limit of H-1B eligibility based on a pending employment-based green card application.
To apply for the EAD, eligible spouses must file a Form I-765 and pay a $410 filing fee. The eligibility category on the form I-765 is (c)(26). USCIS has also provided responses to a list of FAQs. The validity dates on the EAD will coincide with the H-4 status approval dates. EADs can be filed after H-4 status is obtained and with subsequent extensions.