The Complete Guide to H-4 Visas
If you’re a family member of an H-1B visa holder who works in the United States, you may be able to come to the U.S. on an H-4 visa.
The H-4 visa isn’t available to everyone – only certain family members qualify – but if you don’t qualify for this type of visa, you may qualify for another.
Generally, it’s a good idea to talk to a business immigration attorney about your situation so you can take the appropriate steps to join your family member in the U.S.
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What is an H-4 Visa?
An H-4 visa is a type of dependent visa. You can only get this type of visa if you’re a certain type of dependent of an H-1, H-2 or H-3 visa holder. It comes with certain rights and responsibilities, and for many people, it’s best to talk to an attorney about using it to come to the U.S.
While the paperwork isn’t incredibly complicated, it’s still immigration paperwork – and you must fill out and file specific forms, as well as go through the eligibility process to use an H-4 visa.
You should apply for an H-4 visa as soon as you can. If possible, do it as soon as your spouse’s or parent’s visa is approved by the government. That way, you can make the whole process easier – and if approved, you won’t have to arrive in the U.S. after your spouse or parent does.
How Long Can You Stay in the U.S. on an H-4 Visa?
The United States government will grant you an H-4 visa with the same time limit on it that your spouse or parent’s visa has. For example, if the H-1, H-2 or H-3 visa holder you’re coming to the U.S. with is granted a period of stay of 3 years, your H-4 visa will also be valid for 3 years. If your spouse or parent extends his or her visa, you can extend yours, as well.
Do You Have to Wait Until Your Spouse or Parent Gets an H-1, H-2 or H-3 Visa to Apply for an H-4 Visa?
You don’t have to wait until your spouse or parent receives his or her visa to apply for your own. In fact, the U.S. government recommends that you all apply at the same time – that way, USCIS can process your petitions together and you may be more likely to be able to travel to the country together.
Who Qualifies for an H-4 Visa?
Only the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of H-1, H-2 and H-3 visa holders qualify for H-4 visas. That means your spouse or parent must have (or be in the process of getting) a visa for:
- Temporary work
- Seasonal work
- Specialty work
- Engaging in cooperative research and development projects administered by the U.S. Department of Defense
- Modeling, provided the visa holder has national or international acclaim and recognition
- Job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States
What if My Parents Depend On Me – Can They Get H-4 Visas?
Unfortunately, only the spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 qualify for an H-4 visa. There may be other avenues you can use to bring your parents to the United States with you, though, so it’s best to talk about your situation with an attorney who understands U.S. immigration law and how it may apply in your case.
Every situation is different, and your attorney may be able to find a way for you to bring your parents to the U.S. under current immigration law.