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.) There is also an $85 biometric services fee for each dependent listed on the application. Each person will receive a biometric services appointment notice containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicants’ address.
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.