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H-4 Dependents

H-1B family members (spouse and/or unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for H-4 status.

Eligible family members who are in the US must file form I-539 with USCIS to either change to H-4 status, or extend their H-4 status.  You are welcome to provide the completed form and filing fees in a sealed envelope to the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) with your H-1B materials.  CGE will then file the dependent application concurrently with your H-1B petition as a courtesy, but are unable to complete the dependent forms or provide specific legal advice related to it.  Please consult an immigration attorney if you have any questions about H-4 dependent status or how to file dependent applications.

The current I-539 form, including instructions on completion, required documentation, and current filing fees can be found on the I-539 section of the USCIS website.  Please note that you should complete the I-539 in the name of the principal dependent, not the H-1B.

If your dependents are not in the US then filing the I-539 is not necessary.  Instead, your dependents should apply for an H-4 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate upon USCIS approval of the H-1B petition.

Although H-4 dependents can study in the US, H-4 dependents cannot work in the US, including work for foreign entities or foreign sources of pay.  In limited circumstances, some H-4 spouses may qualify for work authorization through an application to USCIS.  If applicable, you may include that application as part of the sealed dependent packet.

H-4 dependent status is dependent on the H-1B employee’s status.  Therefore, if the employee loses their H-1B status for any reason, so do the H-4 dependents.