H1B Spouse Visa and Employment Prospects: Thriving Together


By Imagility

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Relocating to the United States on an H1B visa presents exciting opportunities for professionals and their families. If you are wondering whether H1B spouses can work, yes they can! For spouses accompanying H1B visa holders, the H4 visa, also known as the H-1B spouse visa, offers the opportunity to live and potentially work in the US. Understanding the nuances of the H1B spouse visa, including eligibility requirements and employment prospects, is vital for a smooth transition.

If you hold an H1B visa, you have the option to bring your spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years old) to the US. The H1B spouse visa, or H-4 visa, permits your spouse and children to stay in the US for the same duration as your H1B visa’s validity. Your spouse can even obtain authorization to work in the US through the H4 visa.

However, certain eligibility criteria must be met to obtain an H1B spouse visa. These include being legally married to your spouse, maintaining valid H1B visa status, and providing a marriage certificate as proof.

This blog delves into the essential eligibility criteria for an H1B spouse visa, outlines the application process (whether from outside or inside the USA), and explains how to secure employment authorization for your spouse on an H4 visa. By reading this blog, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental aspects of the H-4 visa.

What is an H1B spouse visa (H4 visa)?

The H1B spouse visa is a visa that allows H1B holders to stay with their legally married spouse and children in the US. The spouse can stay on an H4 visa as long as his/her spouse’s H1B visa is valid. The H1B visa is given to an individual who has at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent to that and has specialty occupation knowledge. The H1B visa is initially valid for three years and can extend up to six years.

Eligibility criteria for H1B spouse visa

To qualify for an H1B dependent visa (H4 visa), certain eligibility criteria must be met. Primarily, the spouse must be legally married to the H1B visa holder and provide a valid marriage certificate as proof. Additionally, dependent children under 21 years old and unmarried may also apply for H4 visas. However, it’s essential to note that once children reach the age of 21, they may need to explore alternative visa options.

  • The spouse must be legally married to the H1B holder.
  • Children up to 21 (unmarried) can apply for an H1B spouse visa. But once they turn 21, they need to change their immigration status to another visa type like F-1, M-1, B-2, etc.

What are the H1B Visa Benefits for the Spouses?

H1B spouse visa allows principal H1B holder dependents to work and live in the USA for the same period as long as the H1B holder. For example, if the H1B holder visa is valid for three years, his/her spouse can also live in the USA for three years because the duration of stay is directly linked to the principal H1B holder visa. Likewise, if the H1B holder applies for an extension of the H1B visa, the spouse can also apply for an extension for the same period.

The spouse can work in the USA, but he/she has to first apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) to get approval for work. EAD allows spouses to work either full-time or part-time in any sector. The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that you are only eligible to apply for EAD when you have a valid H4 visa, and the principal H1B holder has applied for lawful permanent residence status. Once the EAD is granted, you get a social security number. Spouses can also study in the US full-time or part-time.

The H1B spouse visa allows dependents to accompany the principal H1B visa holder to the US and reside for the same duration. This means that if the H1B visa is valid for three years, the spouse and dependent children can also stay in the US for three years. Moreover, spouses holding an H4 visa have the opportunity to apply for employment authorization, granting them the freedom to pursue professional opportunities in the US.

How to apply for an H1B spouse visa?

You can apply for an H1B spouse visa from within the US and outside the US. Let’s explore this.Applying from within the USIf you are already in the US, you need to fill in a change of status form for an H1B visa. You need to apply before the expiration of your current visa. You must apply at least 45 days before the current visa expires.Applying from outside the USIf you are outside the US, you can apply for the H4 visa from the US embassy, where your H1B spouse has applied. In case you have different nationalities, you can apply from your nation’s US embassy. Follow the below process to apply for the H4 visa from outside the USA.
  • Fill the DS-160 form online You need to fill in form DS-160 online. When you apply online, you get the DS-160 barcode. Keep the barcode confirmation page, and print it since you need to carry it for the visa interview.
  • Pay fees Next, pay the applicable visa fees, print the page, and keep it handy for the visa interview.
  • Schedule a visa interview appointmentAfter filling out the DS-160 form, you must schedule your visa interview as early as possible to speed up the process. After scheduling the interview, you will get the confirmation letter. Place it with the documents you need to carry for the visa interview.
  • Get ready for the document fileYou will need to submit a set of documents for H4 visa approval. Make sure you collect all the required documents listed below:
    1. Filled DS-160 application form
    2. Valid passport
    3. Two photographs
    4. Payment receipt of application fee
    5. A copy of the principal H1b visa holder visa
    6. Marriage certificate
  • Appear for the interview After you submit the DS-160 form and the required documents, you will need to attend the visa interview to get an H4 visa. The interviewer may ask questions related to your marriage with the principal H1B visa holder to check if it is genuine, your intent of going to the US, etc.  Prepare yourself well and answer truthfully. Your interview plays a significant role in determining your eligibility for an H-4 visa. 

How to Apply for Employment Authorization?

To apply for employment authorization, you’ll need to complete form I-765 and submit it for approval. This application is only applicable if you’re currently in the US with a valid H4 visa. Alongside the form, you must provide necessary documents, including your valid H4 visa and your spouse’s H1B visa, and pay the application fees. Notably, premium processing isn’t available for EAD applications.

Upon receiving approval for your EAD, you’re authorized to start working in the US, provided your spouse’s H1B visa remains valid. Additionally, if your spouse’s H1B visa is extended, you can also extend the validity of your work permit accordingly.


You can apply for an H4 visa to reunite with your spouse in the US. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can maintain this status. Platforms like Imagility provide comprehensive support for various visas, including the H4 visa. With transparent and collaborative petition-building processes and guided workflows, beneficiaries can easily track their petition progress, even on the go via mobile apps.

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

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