If you have H-1B status in the US, your spouse and children are likely eligible for H-4 Dependent status. Over 136,000 H-4 visas were issued in 2017! H-4 visas allow spouses and children of H-1B holders to enter and lawfully stay in the US, to prevent the separation of families while the H-1B holder is working in the U.S.
If your spouse and/or children are in the US with a valid status when you receive your H-1B, they can apply to change their status to H-4. They will maintain a legal status during the pendency of their change of status application. If your spouse and/or children are outside of the US and want to obtain an H-4 visa, they can apply at the US consulate in their home country. After being granted H-4 visas, they can enter and live in the U.S. as H-4 dependents throughout their granted validity period.
The length of H-4 status is dependent on the H-1B holder’s validity period. The H-4 will only be granted until the end of the H-1B’s validity period, because H-4 status is dependent upon the primary H-1B holder maintaining a valid immigration status.
A dependent on H-4 status may attend school. Some H-4 dependents may receive work authorization. If the primary H-1B holder has started their employment based green card process (and has an approved I-140), then their H-4 spouse is eligible to file for employment authorization. If this is not the case, however, the H-4 dependents may not be employed in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the future is uncertain for H-4 holders who want to obtain employment authorization. In 2017, the Trump administration issued an Executive Order stating their intent to revoke the ability of certain H-4 spouses to get employment authorization. No specific action has been taken yet, but the administration has not backed down from its intent.
To ensure that your family can obtain their H-4 status, contact Maged & Rost today!