Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the H-1B visa holder to the U.S. may receive H-4 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S., as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the H-1B visa holder maintaining his or her legal status and extending his or her program in a timely manner.
All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the U.S.
H-4 and Employment
Holders of H-4 visas are NOT permitted to work.
H-4 and School
There are currently no restrictions on study for H-4 dependents. They may study full-time or part-time.
How to Obtain H-4 Status for your Dependent
Please Note: UM does not provide legal representation for the H-1B employee's family members. H-1B employees are responsible for monitoring the status of their H-4 dependents. The OIS provides the following information only to assist the employee's family in gathering the required documents for USCIS.
Inside the U.S.
If the dependent is in the U.S. and is filing for a change to or to extend his or her H-4 status, Form I-539, Application to Extend-Change Non-Immigrant Status must be filed with the USCIS along with the $290 fee. This form is a separate petition from the worker’s petition but is normally filed along with the I-129 at the time of the original petition.
University of Maryland only files the Form I-539 as a courtesy; UM does not provide legal representation for the employee’s family members.
The H-1B employee applicant does not complete the Form I-539 unless all dependents are under the age of 14.
The OIS provides the following checklist to assist the employee’s family in gathering the documents required by USCIS only.
- Form I-539
The H-1B applicant’s oldest dependent family member completes Form I-539. This form is the oldest dependent’s application to change or to extend his or her status. Additional dependents are included on Supplement-1 of Form I-539. The form MUST be signed at Part 5. The H-1B employee applicant can only sign if all dependents are children under the age of 14.
DO NOT complete a separate I-539 for each family member; only one form needs be completed for an entire family.
- If there is more than one family member, the Supplemental Form to I-539 needs be completed to include those family members.
- Copies of each dependent's passport identification and expiration page(s)
- Copies of each dependent's U.S. visa
- Copies of each dependent's Form I-94, front and back, with the red stamp clearly legible
- Copies of other relevant immigration documents for each dependent (i.e., I-20 for F-2 dependents, DS-2019s for J-2 dependents, I-797 approval notices for H-4 dependents, etc.)
- Check for $290 made payable to The Department of Homeland Security, USCIS.
All correspondence related to the Form I-539 filing will be sent by USCIS directly to the applicants.
For those whose family members are currently in the U.S. in another immigration status and wish to change to H-4, please schedule an appointment to obtain advice on how to change status.
Outside the U.S.
For those whose family members are currently outside the U.S., there is no requirement to file an application with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to a visa interview, or to obtain documentation from the OIS. If the dependent is outside the U.S., he or she must take a copy of the approved H petition along with proof of the dependent relationship to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest their home. Consult the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where your dependent(s) will apply for their H-4 visa(s) for information on visa appointments and any documents that they require.
Your dependents should bring the following with them to their visa appointment:
- Copy of your passport identification and expiration page(s)
- Copy of your U.S. visa
- Copy of your I-94
- Copy of your I-797 H-1B approval notice
- Your recent paycheck stubs
- Evidence of their relationship to you (i.e., marriage certificate, birth certificate)