How To Obtain H-4 Spouse Visa For Your Family
The H-4 visa is a type of visa that allows the spouse and unmarried children of an H-1B visa holder to enter and live in the United States. If you are married to an H-1B visa holder and would like to obtain an H-4 visa for yourself and your family, there are a few things you need to know. This visa is very popular for dependents who are on the H-1B and are waiting for there green card.
In this article we’ll go over the eligibility requirements, application process, employment authorization documents, advance parole & case times. We’ll also go over the pitfalls and challenges with the H-4 visa.
Eligibility Requirements for an H-4 Visa
In order to be eligible for an H-4 visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child of an H-1B visa holder. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate that you have ties to your home country that will compel you to return there when your visa expires. finally, you must not have any prior criminal convictions that would make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. If you meet all of these criteria, then you may begin the application process for an H-4 visa.
It’s important to remember that by default H-4 petitioners cannot work in the United States until their (EAD) employment authorization documents is in an active status. In order apply for an EAD the H-4 dependent must meets certain conditions. Some of these conditions are;
- Having the H-4 visa in valid status
- Principal beneficiary must also have a valid H-1B status
- The I-140 petition must be approved or,
- Your spouse should be eligible under the AC21 to stay in the U.S.
- Labor certification application has been pending for the minimum of 1 year (365 days)
The labor certification application has to be applied for a year in advance prior to the end of the H-4 visa.
These scenarios for which an H-4 dependent can apply for the EAD. If you meet the above conditions then one of the first steps to take is applying for I-765 application form. This form is known as “application for employment authorization” or (AEA,) also informally a work permit. Luckily the AEA is fairly simple process.
I-765 Processing Time
It usually takes (USCIS) united states and citizenship immigration services around 6-8 months to process the Form I-765. Previously, work permit applications were processed by USCIS in 90 days, but a growing backlog has caused extended delays.
Usually, the filing fee for Form I-765 is $410, but the work permit cost depends on a number of scenarios. For example, the fee could be more if you are required to submit biometrics. Having to submit biometrics will typically raise the price by $85 for a total of $495. Some scenarios for having to submit biometrics include;
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or DREAMERS
- The principal beneficiary facing compelling circumstances
- Unmarried children or spouse of the principal beneficiary
Luckily, there is no filing fee for the work permit because it’s tied into the application (AOS) adjustment of status green card application. As long as the I-485 form was filed after July, 30th, 2007. Here a quote from the (DHS) department of homeland security
This rule adjusts the fee schedule for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration and naturalization benefit applications and petitions, including nonimmigrant applications and visa petitions. These fees fund the cost of processing applications and petitions for immigration benefits and services, and USCIS’ associated operating costs. USCIS is revising these fees because the current fee schedule does not adequately reflect current USCIS processes or recover the full costs of services provided by USCIS. – USCIS & DHS
Always make sure to file out the latest I-765 form as USCIS will continue to update the form on their website. Here’s a link to the I-765 form. It’s also very important to select C-9 as the category for your EAD.
The Application Process for an H-4 Visa
The first step in applying for an H-4 visa is to complete and submit the online application form. You will also need to pay the applicable application fee and submit any required supporting documentation. Once your application has been processed, you will be scheduled for an interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate. At your interview, you will need to present your passport, application form, and supporting documentation. You may also be asked questions about your relationship with the H-1B visa holder and your ties to your home country. If everything goes well, then you will be issued your H-4 visa and can begin making plans to move to the United States with your family.
Furthermore you might be requested from USCIS to prove that H-1B holder has an extended approved status, allowing them to stay in the U.S. The evidence required for proof is an AC21
What is AC21?
AC21 was a rule to signed by congress to have more competition in the labor markets in America. AC21 makes the H-1B visa and Form I-140 portable, allowing foreign workers in certain situations the flexibility to change employers. Allowing companies to be competitive for valuable H-1B immigrants.
If you are married to an H-1B visa holder and would like to join them in the United States, then you may be eligible for an H-4 spouse visa. Eligible applicants must meet certain criteria including being the spouse or unmarried child of an H-1B visa holder and having ties to their home country. The application process involves completing an online form, paying the applicable fee, and attending an interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate. Once approved, you will be able to move to the United States with your family and enjoy all that this great country has to offer.
The H-4 visa is very interconnected, because if an immigrant wants to work in the U.S. they’re EAD validity depends on the H-4 validity and the H-4 depends on the H-1B’s validity. If you want to decouple your spouse or children from your visa there are other options. For the spouse they to can try to apply for the H-1B lottery, for the children they can apply for the F-1 student visas. If successful the decoupling of these visas would allow more stability for your family, because there’s less stringent requirements and more opportunities.