The spouse and unmarried children under age 21 of an individual on an H-1B visa may apply for an "H-4 dependent" visa. Family members in the U.S. who wish to change to H-4 status form another status or to extend their current H-4 status, must complete a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-539. the family member completes and signs the I-539 application, NOT the H-1B visa holder. If the family member is a young child who is not old enough to sign, the parent may sign the form in Part 6 "Signature of person preparing form if other than above."
- A foreign address must be given in Part 4. The address of a parent or other family member living in the home country is acceptable.
- Fee: The fee for processing is $290 payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and must be paid by the beneficiary, not the Department.
Return the completed and signed I-539 to the Center for Global Education, with the H-1B petition packet. Additional supporting Documents are needed. The supporting documents include a photocopy of I-94 of the spouse and/or child(ren), and if they are currently in a status other than H-4, a photocopy of their other USCIs documents indicating their current status. If they are currently in H-4 status, they may also have a form I-797, Approval Notice, in which case, a copy of that form should also be provided. Proof of relationship to the principal H-1B in the form of birth and marriage certificates must also be included, as well as a copy of the information page of the passport.
Family members who have a valid status independent of the H-1B visa holder (e.g. F-1, J-1), are not required to file for H-4 status. H-4 visa holders are not authorized to work in the United States under any circumstances.
For family members outside the U.S.: The I-539 Form is not needed if the family members are currently not in the United States. Instead, they will complete a visa application for H-4 status directly to the U.S. Consulate or embassy. The following offers guidelines on what may be required. However, each Consulate may have different fees, procedures and requirements and should be contacted prior to making the application.
- Proof of the H-1B's status in the U.S. Original form I-797 Notice of approval.
- Proof of financial support
- A letter form the H-1B department indicating annual salary;
- A letter form the H-1B indicating that he/she will provide support for the dependents;
- Copies of the H-1B's bank statements
- Proof of relationship
- Copies of marriage and/or birth certificates
Other family members such as parents, sisters, brothers, domestic partners are not eligible for H-4 status. They may be able to apply for a "B-2 tourist" visa. They would need to show proof of financial support and ties to their home country.