To understand what an H-4 visa is, you must first know the definition of an H-1B visa. An H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits U.S. businesses to hire foreign workers in certain occupations that require technical or theoretical proficiency. Typically these are fields that specialize in such areas as science, mathematics, medicine, engineering and architecture. To read more about H-1B visas, visit our section on H-1B visas.
H-4 visas are often issued to spouses and children of H-1B visa holders. The H-4 visa works in tandem with the H-1B visa in order to allow certain family members to hold legal status in the U.S. Spouses of H-1B visa holders automatically qualify for an H-4 visa. Children of H-1B visa holders often qualify for H-4 status however, the children must be unmarried and under 21 years old to obtain an H-4 visa. Upon issuance of an H-4 visa, spouses and children under 21 can enter and stay in the United States for as long as the H-1B holder is permitted to stay.
Changing status from an H-4 visa
There are many paths an H-4 visa holder may take after receiving their initial H-4 visa status. Currently, family members cannot work in the U.S. with an H-4 visa. However, there is discussion in the legal community that this stipulation should be amended to allow H-4 visa holders to work in the U.S. To learn more about this topic, please read USCIS Proposes Rule on Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses.
Individuals who are classified as having H-4 status,can apply for a change of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in some cases. If they meet all of the eligibility requirements, they may be granted an H-1B status. If they wish, H-4 holders can also request a change to the F-1 status, which will allow them to attend various schools in the U.S. To learn more about F-1 status. continue reading at “Differences Between F-1 and J-1 Student Visas”.
H-4 visa restrictions
There are other restrictions that apply to H-4 visa holders. These permissions reply specifically to acquiring Social Security Numbers and tax ID numbers. While H-4 visa holders can obtain driver’s licenses and open bank accounts in the U.S., they are not eligible for Social Security Numbers. However, they can apply for a tax ID number from the IRS, which is commonly referred to as an ITIN. To obtain an ITIN, H-4 family members must fill out and send a W-7 form directly to the IRS address.
The purpose of an H-4 visa is to allow H-1B visa holders to maintain their family support system while working in the United States. H-4 visa standing allows spouses and dependents under 21 years of age to hold a legal status for the duration of the H-1B visa holder’s duration of work. Although certain restrictions do apply to H-4 visa holders, it also allows them to take advantage of other immigration pathways such as applying for an H-1B visa themselves or converting to a student visa. To continue reading about H-4 visas, please continue reading the following sections entitled, “How to File for an H-4 Visa” and “H-4 Visa Sample Interview Questions”.
How we can help
If you are looking to pursue filing for an H-4 visa, let the experienced and professional staff at KPPB Law help you. We employ the best and the brightest to ensure the best possible results for your case. Want to hear more? Call us at 703-594-4040 or contact us online. Consultations are free and inquiries are welcome. Contact us today!