The H-4 visa is granted to the family member dependents, such as spouse and dependent children, of an H-1 visa holder. For instance, the spouse and children of the H-1B visa holder want to stay with him or her in the U.S. during the duration of the stay.
Many applicants for the H-4 visa say that the process is time-consuming and complex. The primary applicant is the H-1B worker and visa holder. The worker’s spouse and children less than 21 years old may apply and qualify for the H-4 visa by making an application with the U.S. consulates in their home nation.
Benefits of the H-4 Visa
Typically, applicants for the H-4 visa do so simultaneously with the primary H-1B worker. All applicants are often submitted at the same time. The H-4 visa enables the visa holder to:
1. Obtain driving privileges in the U.S. with a driver’s license.
2. Enroll in educational courses.
3. Open a checking, savings, or CD accounts at a bank.
4. Apply for a tax identification number (ITIN) for Internal Revenue Service purposes.
5. Find employment or pursue profit-making opportunities in the United States.
2015 H-4 EAD Rule
The May 26, 2015 new H-4 EAD (Employment Authorization for H-4 dependent spouses) rule states that H-4 dependents and spouses of H-1B visa holders may work in the United States by making an application for Employment Authorization.
The EAD rule intends to help businesses retain the services of highly skilled workers from other countries. The goal of the EAD rule is to decrease interruption to the employer’s work force that may result when H-1B foreign workers decide not to stay here.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) anticipates the new H-4 EAD rule will reduce the economic burden and financial stress suffered by H-1B foreign worker non-immigrants and the families that accompany H-1B workers to the United States. Ultimately, the H-4 EAD rule can help H-1B workers and their families transition to permanent residency in the U.S.
Before passage of the new H-4 EAD rule, spouses of H-1B workers with valuable employment skills to offer a U.S.-based employer, found it difficult to get jobs. By assisting the H-1B worker’s spouse to find a job, the entire family’s cultural transition to the U.S. is supported.
A dual income family may also suffer fewer financial burdens for foreign workers and their families. USCIS predicts that almost 180,000 H-1B worker’s spouses will apply for employment authorizations this year. Eligible H-4 visa holders may apply for the H-4 visa employment authorization by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
H-4 Visa Application Tips
Many people around the work report that the filling in the H-4 visa application—and making sense of the associated law surrounding the H-4 process—is challenging. Consider these suggestions when applying for the H-4 visa:
Keep good records. If applying for the H-4 visa online, make copies of fingerprint records and consulate meetings and confirmation numbers. Print payment receipts and confirmation numbers.
Bring a printout of confirmed meeting information to the interview. Arrive fifteen to thirty minutes before the meeting time.
Visa-size photos. Make multiple copies for each applicant and bring extra photos to the USCIS interview.
Bring passports to the USCIS interview. If the interview is successful, the applicants’ passports are then collected by the officer. The H-4 visa is then issued in the visa holder’s passport and returned through a courier service.
Offer photocopies of the H-1B applicant’s complete passport. All pages in the primary visa holder’s passport must be included. USCIS may request the H-4 applicant to offer and submit this information.
Employer certification, or an employer’s offer letter to the H-1B visa applicant, should be included to prove that the worker is employed. The worker’s spouse should keep a copy of this important certification.
Tax and payment details. If the primary visa holder is already working in the U.S., the spouse should supply copies of pay stubs, W-2 forms, and tax returns filed by his or her spouse. Provide certified copies of the H-1B visa holder’s bank statements. Include copies of utility bills that show the visa holder’s name and address.
Bring copies of essential immigration forms, including the I-129, I-797A, and LCA. The primary visa holder should keep the originals. The H-4 applicant should provide copies.
Important Marriage Information
Bring the original marriage license or certificate to the USCIS interview. The applicants’ names should exactly match those on the visa application and passport(s). Consider the following required marriage-related documents and evidence.
Information collected on the H-4 visa application is collected prior to the visa interview. The H-4 applicant must provide both last and given names. For instance, if a wife’s maiden name differs from her current last name after marriage, the applicant must indicate that a name change has occurred. The applicant must also provide the last name on the passport.
The passport should show the applicant’s current, after-marriage last name. If the passport authority in the applicant’s home country has misspelled his or her name, it is important to request correction before completing the H-4 visa application.
Processing delays may also result when the applicant’s first and last name are transposed. For instance, the applicant writes their first name instead of last name on the form. As above, the H-4 visa applicant should confirm that the passport reflects the proper given and last name in the correct order.
In addition, the applicant should request that his or her spouse’s name is endorsed on the passport before completing the H-4 application. The applicant must endorse the change of name on his or her passport. If this step is not performed, a wife’s maiden name will appear on her U.S. ID and driver’s license cards.
Wedding and Marriage Day Photos
The H-4 visa applicant will be asked to offer evidence that he or she is actually married to the H-1B visa applicant. The couple’s wedding day pictures are usually considered as credible evidence of legal marriage.
The album ideally offers the USCIS interview officer with many photos of the wedding ceremony, guests, and family. The H-4 applicant must be clearly shown with the H-1B applicant husband or wife in the wedding album. Clear, crisp wedding pictures are necessary so that the USCIS interviewing officer has no question about identities of the bride and groom.
If the applicants’ home country has certain marital rituals, it is recommended that the couple include photos of these ceremonies. For instance, a Hindi couple may want to include photos of the seven circuits, or Saat Phere.
Hire an Experienced H-4 Visa Immigration Attorney
Successfully preparing an H-4 visa application can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Contact an experienced H-4 visa attorney to avoid processing delays or administrative errors.