What is an H4 visa or H4 status?
An H-4 visa or H4 status is a non-immigrant visa/status category for dependents (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders (temporary workers in a specialty occupation). It allows them to accompany or join the H-1B visa holder in the US.
What is an H4 EAD?
An H-4 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is a work permit for spouses of H-1B visa holders. It allows eligible H-4 dependents to work in the US while the H-1B visa holder is in valid status.
Who qualifies for an H4 EAD?
To be eligible for an H-4 EAD, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Be the spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant who is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 (immigrant petition for alien worker) ;
- Be in H-4 nonimmigrant status; and
- Not have any other work authorization in the US
How is my H4 affected by the Edakunni Settlement (January 2023)?
Under the Edakunni Settlement, USCIS has agreed to adjudicate your H4 and H4 EAD at the same time as the adjudication of the principal’s H-1B petition IF the H4 and H4 EAD applications were filed concurrently with the H-1B petition.
This settlement will not apply to you if the H4 and H4 EAD applications were filed separately or after the filing of the principal’s H-1B petition.
Can I remain in the US while my H4 application is pending?
Yes, you can remain in the US while your H-4 application is pending. However, you must maintain your current nonimmigrant status while your H-4 application is pending. If you have a valid H-1B spouse, your eligibility to remain in the US is generally tied to their H-1B status. If your H-1B spouse’s status is valid, you may continue to remain in the US while your H-4 application is pending. If your H-1B spouse’s status changes or becomes invalid, your eligibility to remain in the US will be affected.
Can I continue to work on H4 EAD if I file a renewal application for EAD timely?
If you file a timely renewal application for your H-4 EAD, you may be eligible for a period of work authorization while your renewal application is pending. This is called “automatic” extension of work authorization. However, the length of the automatic extension is only valid up to the expiration date of your current I-94. You must stop working the day of expiration of your current I-94.
Can I study while on H4 or while my H4 is pending?
Yes, you can study while on H-4 visa or while your H-4 visa is pending. H-4 dependents are permitted to study in the US, but they are not allowed to work unless they have a valid H-4 EAD. Studying while on H-4 visa does not impact your immigration status, as long as you maintain your H-4 status and comply with all requirements to maintain your H4 status.
Can I work for any employer with my H4 EAD?
With an H-4 EAD, you can work for any employer in the US in any job that is not prohibited by law. You are not restricted to working only for your H-1B spouse’s employer. However, you must ensure that you have a valid EAD during the entire period of your employment. Additionally, you must maintain your H-4 nonimmigrant status while working in the US.
Can I open a business/company with my H4 & H4 EAD?
Yes, you can open a business/company while on H-4 visa or with an H-4 EAD. However, opening a company does not change your immigration status from H-4 to an entrepreneur or business owner. As an H-4 dependent, you are still subject to the restrictions of H-4 status, including the prohibition on working unless you have a valid H-4 EAD. Additionally, you must comply with all relevant immigration laws and regulations, as well as state and federal laws related to starting and operating a business in the US.
Overstaying my H4 status, what could happen?
If you overstay your H-4 status, it could have serious consequences for your future immigration prospects in the US. Overstaying your visa means that you have stayed in the US longer than the period of time authorized by the US government. This could result in a bar from entering the US for a specified period of time, or could even make you ineligible for future immigration benefits.
Additionally, overstaying your H-4 visa could also impact your ability to adjust status to a different immigration category, such as permanent residence, in the future. It could also negatively affect any future applications for work authorization or other immigration benefits.
If you have overstayed your H-4 status, it is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on your specific situation and available options. In some cases, it may be possible to regularize your status through a process such as a change of status or extension of stay, or through a waiver of inadmissibility. However, these options are subject to specific requirements and criteria, and the availability and outcome of these options will depend on your specific circumstances.
What could happen if I continue to work without a valid H4 EAD?
Working without a valid H-4 EAD is a violation of H-4 visa status and is considered unauthorized employment in the US. Engaging in unauthorized employment could result in serious consequences for your immigration status, including, but not limited to, denial of future immigration benefits, including work authorization, fines, and even removal (deportation) from the US.
If you have worked without a valid H-4 EAD, it is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on your specific situation and available options. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief. However, these options are subject to specific requirements and criteria, and the availability and outcome of these options will depend on your specific circumstances.
If you are interested in applying for an H4 visa or H4 EAD, get started by consulting with an experienced immigration attorney.
By: Felipe Jimenez
Felipe Jimenez is an Associate Attorney at Reddy & Neumann, P.C.. He works in the H-1B Department where he assists clients through all phases of the non-immigrant visa process.
Reddy & Neumann, P.C. has been serving the business community for over 20 years and is Houston’s largest immigration law firm focused solely on US. Employment-based immigration. We work with both employers and their employees, helping them navigate the immigration process quickly and cost-effectively.