The H-1B Visa is one of the most popular temporary work visa types. Many of the H-1B holders want to bring their dependent family members along with them, when they move to America to work.
Luckily, the US immigration system offers the H-4 dependent visa for the spouse and children under 21 of the H-1B holder. The H-4 visa allows the dependent spouse and children to travel to the US along with the H-1B holder and stay in the US as a temporary resident.
What Is an H-4 Visa
H4 Visa or H4 dependent visa is the US visa category given to the spouse and children (under 21 years of age) of all H visa holders such as the H-1B Visa, H-1B1 Visa, H-2A, H-2B and H-3. The H-4 visa is treated as a dependent visa, meaning its validity and status are tied to the primary H visa holder.
Who May Qualify for an H-4 Visa?
Spouses and children under the age of 21 of H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H3 employees are considered dependents and are eligible for H-4 nonimmigrant status. H-4 beneficiaries are only eligible to be in the US in H-4 status while the principal H employee is in the US in valid H status.
What Are the Requirements for the H-4 Visa?
The fundamental requirement to get the H-4 visa involve either being married to an H-1B holder or to be the child of an H-1B holder and under 21 years of age. During a visa interview at a US Consulate or application to USCIS for H-4 Change of status, you would need to submit all the proofs related to your relationship with the H-1B holder.
How Can I Get the H-4 Visa?
To get the H-4 Visa you need to be married to or the child of a H1-B Visa holder. To apply, you first need to make sure you have proof of relationship, such as a marriage certificate if applying as a spouse, or a birth certificate if applying as a child.
The H-1B Visa holder is required to provide their passport, a copy of their visa, a copy of the I-797 approval notice from USCIS, a copy of the I-94 if they are living in the US, a copy of their employment offer, and a copy of their pay stubs if they are already working in the US.
If the H4 visa applicant is staying in living outside of US, they need to apply for a US Visa at a Consulate or Embassy online. First, you will need to apply online by filling out the nonimmigrant US Visa application form, also called the DS-160 form.
Pay the Applicable H-4 Visa Fees
After filling out the online application form, you will need to pay the required US Visa fee for H-4 Visa stamping.
H4 visa fees are the same as other H type visas. Currently, the application fee for this visa is $190. Pay the fee and save the receipt, as you will need it later during your application procedures.
Schedule a Visa Interview Appointment
You will need to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to give biometrics (fingerprints, photographs), and then book an appointment for an in-person Visa interview at your nearest US consulate or embassy.
Compile the H-4 Visa Document File
The H4 visa applicant need to carry relevant documents to prove their identity, the marital relationship with the H1B visa holder and relevant birth documents of the child, if applying for children.
The documents you will need include a valid passport, a passport photo that follows US photo specifications, your original marriage or birth certificate, appointment letters (for your interview and biometric information, you DS-160 form submission confirmation letter, the primary H-1B holder's passport copy and I-797 approval notice from USCIS, as well as their pay stubs and an employment verification letter.
Attend the Visa Interview
When you apply for H4 visa at a US Consulate or US Embassy, you would be interviewed by a Consular Officer. They would interview you in person to understand your background, validate your identity, your relationship with the H-1B holder, etc.
Get Your Visa
If you apply for an H-4 Visa stamp outside of the United Stated, you get a US visa foil glued in your passport by the US Consulate.
If you have received H-4 status by applying for a change of status within the US, you will get an H-4 approval notice that is basically a form I-797A which states your details and validity of H-4 status.
H-4 Visa Processing Time
The processing times for the H-4 visa are different from country to country. Since your H-4 status is dependent on the status of the H type visa holder (so your spouse or parent), processing might take as long as it takes to process their visa.
If, for example, your spouse is applying for an H-2A visa and you apply together, your visa will take the same time to process as your spouse’s.
If you are applying separately though, the time it takes to process the H-4 visa will be up to the US Embassy and the workload that they have.
How Long Can I Stay in the US With an H-4 Visa?
When you apply for the H-4 visa, you will have to submit your spouse’s or parent’s I-797 form. This form states the dates that the visa of your spouse or parent is valid. Based on this, the US Embassy will also grant you a visa with the same validity of your spouse’s or parent’s visa.
So, if your spouse has a visa that is valid for 3 years, your H-4 visa will also be valid for 3 years. That is the length of time that you can to stay in the US.
Can I Extend my H-4 Visa?
If your spouse or parent applies for an extension, then you are also eligible to apply for an extension of the H-4 visa. You can do this by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
In addition to this form, you will have to also submit a copy of your most recent Form I-94, your spouse's or parent's most recent Form I-94, copies of your spouse's or parent's I-129 form and I-797 form and notice of approval, and proof of your relationship with the H type visa holder.
H-4 Visa Interview Questions
When you attend the interview for an H4 Visa, the consular officer will ask you several questions. The interview might be quite stressful for many, despite that the questions are quite basic and simple. That is why you should prepare the answers in advance.
Questions About You and the Reason You Are Applying for an H-4 Visa
Some questions that may be asked regarding you and the reason you are applying for an H-4 Visa include but are not limited to:
- What is the purpose of your travel to US?
- What are your qualifications?
- What do you plan to do in US?
- Do you plan to work in US?
- Where are you living now?
- What is your current employment status?
- What is the purpose of getting an H-4 visa?
- How will you support yourself financially?
Questions About Your Marriage
Some questions that may be asked regarding your marriage to the H Visa holder include but are not limited to:
- How did you meet your spouse?
- How long have you been married?
- Was yours an arranged marriage?
- How long have you known each other?
- Is your marriage properly registered?
- What is your spouse's date of birth?
- Where does your spouse stay currently?
Questions About Your Spouse
Some questions that may be asked regarding your spouse include but are not limited to:
- Who is your spouse’s employer?
- What kind of work does your spouse do?
- How long have they been working for their current company?
- What is your spouse’s salary?
What If Your H-4 Visa Application Is Rejected?
If your application for an H4 visa is rejected, you can reapply to try again. As long as your sponsor still has their visa and you haven't broken any immigration law or other laws in the US, you can submit another application.