Guide to Obtaining the H-4 Spouse Visa for Your Family


By Imagility

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The H-4 visa, commonly known as the H-1B dependent visa or spouse visa, offers an opportunity for families to join their loved ones in the USA. These H-4 visas are meant for the spouses and dependent children of H-1B visa holders. These visas allow the dependents of H-1B visa holders to accompany the primary visa holder to the USA and pursue their own opportunities in the USA. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the H-4 visa application process, covering the eligibility requirements and other essential considerations.

What You Need to Know About the H-4 Spouse Visa

The H-4 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age to accompany the primary H-1B visa holder to the USA. This visa category allows families to reunite and establish a life together in the USA. Though H-4 visa holders are allowed to study and live in the US for the duration of the primary visa holder’s stay, it has to be noted that H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work unless they obtain employment authorization.

H-4 Visa – Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for an H-4 spouse visa, dependents of H-1B visa holders must meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • Only spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for the H-4 visa.
  • The primary visa holder must hold a valid H-1B visa or be in the process of obtaining one.
  • Applicants must provide evidence of a valid marriage to the H-1B visa holder, such as a marriage certificate.
  • It may be necessary to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support oneself and any dependents while in the US.

Application Process

The process of obtaining an H-4 spouse visa typically involves the following steps:

  • Complete Form DS-160: The applicant must fill out Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, available on the U.S. Department of State website.
  • Schedule Visa Interview: After completing the DS-160 form, applicants must schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
  • Gather Required Documents: Applicants should gather necessary documents, including passport, marriage certificate, photographs, and any additional supporting evidence.
  • Attend Visa Interview: On the scheduled date, applicants must attend the visa interview, where they will be asked questions about their relationship to the primary visa holder and their intentions in the U.S.
  • Await Visa Approval: Upon successful completion of the interview and verification process, applicants will receive a decision on their visa application.

Quick Tips for a Successful H-4 Visa Application Process

  • Begin the application process well in advance to account for processing times and potential delays.
  • Ensure all required documents are accurate, up-to-date, and properly prepared to avoid complications during the visa interview.
  • Be prepared to provide explanations or additional documentation to support your application if requested by the consular officer.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rights and limitations of H-4 visa holders, including restrictions on employment and eligibility for benefits.

Work Permit for H-4 Visa Holders

H-4 visa holders typically cannot work until they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligibility for EAD is contingent upon various conditions, including:

  • Valid H-4 visa status.
  • Valid H-1B status for the principal beneficiary.
  • Approved I-140 petition or eligibility under AC21.
  • Pending labor certification application for at least one year.

AC21 allows eligible foreign workers to change employers under certain circumstances, providing them with greater job mobility and opportunities

I-765 Processing Time

  • USCIS processing time for Form I-765 (EAD) is approximately 6-8 months.
  • Extended delays are common due to a growing backlog.

I-765 Cost

  • The filing fee for Form I-765 is usually $410, with additional fees for biometrics.
  • Biometrics submission typically adds $85 to the total cost.

Fees are subject to change. Please verify the current fee schedule on the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration professional for the most up-to-date information.


Obtaining an H-4 spouse visa for your family is an important step toward reuniting and building a life together in the United States. By understanding the eligibility requirements, navigating the application process, and preparing thoroughly, you can increase your chances of a successful visa approval. Remember to seek guidance from immigration professionals or legal experts if you encounter any challenges along the way. With careful planning and preparation, you can embark on this journey with confidence and optimism for the future.

Call us at +1 603 782 4622/+1 617 865 6588 to learn how Imagility can help.

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