United States H4 dependent visa [Explained]

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The H4 visa is issued to the dependents of H1B visa holders.

H4 visa has many restrictions that may impact the life of the person coming to the United States using an H4 visa.

My spouse has experienced all the ups and downs of being on an H4 visa for over 5 years now.

In this post, we will try to understand the H4 visa using generally asked questions.

Let’s dive right in.

What is an H4 visa?

The H4 visa is issued to dependent family members of H1B visa holders to allow them to travel and accompany primary H1B visa holders.

Who is eligible for an H4 visa?

Immediate family members i.e. spouses and children under the age of 21 years are eligible.

What is the duration of the H4 visa?

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The validity of an H4 visa depends on the validity of the H1B visa. If H1B visa holder’s I 94 has expired, H4 visa holders cannot stay in the USA. Usually, both H1B visa and H4 visa gets the same expiration dates on their visa.

Can H4 visa holders work?

The H4 visa holders cannot work. If the primary H1B applicant has approved I-140, then the H4 visa can apply for H4 EAD. H4 visa holders can only work after the approval of H4 EAD.

Can H4 visa holders apply for SSN?

H4 visa holders can not apply for SSN. They can apply for SSN once they are eligible to apply for H4 EAD.

In fact, the H4 EAD application has the option to apply for SSN.

Until H4 visa holders can get SSN, they should apply for ITIN to file income taxes jointly with primary H1B holders.

How to apply ITIN for H4?

You can apply for ITIN with an H1B visa holder’s income tax return. You have to file income tax jointly and send the paper-based application to IRS. Alternatively, you can take an appointment at a local taxpayer assistance center to send your ITIN application along with income tax returns. Income tax refund will be delayed due to the processing time required for ITIN.

Can H4 visa holder study?

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The H4 visa holders can do anything besides work legally in the USA. Depending on the state you are living in and the duration of your stay. You may be eligible for in-state tuition to complete your studies. It’s not available in all states and all schools, so reach out to the school’s admission department before applying.

It’s better to do certification courses such as CFA, CPA, etc to continue learning.

Can H4 visa holders do volunteer and nonprofit work?

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H4 visa holders can work without pay. H4 visa holders are not eligible to get SSN until they are eligible for H4 EAD.

They can utilize volunteer opportunities and work for no profit as long as they are not hired as employees.

Can H4 visa holders apply for a driving license?

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H4 visa holders are eligible to apply for a driving license and State ID.

Can H4 visa holders apply for a green card?

H4 visa is a dual intent nonimmigrant visa like H1B visa. H4 visa holders can apply for a green card. H1B visa holders can also apply for a green card for dependent H4 visa holders after they become citizens.

What is the H4 processing time?

If you are applying for an H4 visa outside the United States, the processing time depends on the availability of visa interview appoint of regional US consulate.

If you have all the proper documents and clear the H4 visa interview, you will get an H4 visa within 3-5 days after the visa interview appointment.

If you apply for an H4 extension application or change of status application within the United States, it may take somewhere between 3 to 6 months. Complex cases take longer than 6 months to process completely.

Is premium processing available for the H4 visa?

Premium processing is not available for the H4 visa.


H4 visa holders who are not eligible for H4 EAD can not work legally for pay.

Studying and completing certification courses are the best ways to keep yourself up to date professionally.

Do let me know if you have any questions related to H4 EAD?

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First World Dweller

Abhi Sinha

I’m Abhi Sinha. A few years ago, I decided to move to the USA with my wife. Ever since then, we’ve been experiencing all the ups and downs of going through the immigration process. We’ve learned from on-the-ground experience, what works and what doesn’t work. This is the site where I share everything we’ve learned and discuss ways to reduce stress while going through this complex and unfair immigration process.

Abhi Sinha

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