Coming to the United States from abroad to work is a huge step for anyone to take. Leaving your home country is a sacrifice for many people, especially if they must leave loved ones behind. There are a limited amount of H-1B work visas available to applicants each year in the United States. These visas are obtained through an employer’s willingness to sponsor the applicant. Therefore, the process for obtaining an H-1B non-immigrant visa can be competitive, and it isn’t always easy to bring your family along with you when you travel to the United States to work and contribute to the United States economy.
The H-4 Visa
The good news for H-1B non-immigrant visa-holders is that their family members can obtain visas of their own in order to accompany the H-1B visa-holder to the United States. The particular visa the family members must apply for is called the “H-4 Visa.” This visa allows an H-1B visa-holder’s spouse and children to join him or her in the United States during the time the H-1B visa-holder will be working. Each individual family member must obtain his or her own H-4 visa, and only children under the age of 21 may apply for, and receive H-4 visas.
The H-4 visa can be obtained either at the same time that an H-1B non-immigrant worker visa is obtained, or the H-4 visa can be obtained after the H-1B visa is obtained. The only limitation is that the H-4 visa cannot be obtained before an H-1B visa is obtained. In order to apply for an H-4 visa, you must provide the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) with the following documents:
- A copy of the H-1B visa, or the USCIS approval notice for the H-1B visa if it has not yet been received;
- A valid passport that does not expire within six months after applying for an H-4 visa;
- A marriage certificate or birth certificate that proves the family relationship between the H-1B visa-holder and the H-4 visa applicant;
- A completed non-immigrant visa application, called a “Form DS-160”; and
- One passport-sized, color photograph.
There is always a possibility that USCIS will request additional documentation, however, the above-listed documents are typically the main documents that are required and accepted in order to process an H-4 visa application.
Can H-4 Visa-Holders Work in the United States?
Once an H-1B non-immigrant visa-holder is present and working in the United States along with his or her family members, and those family members have H-4 visas, the family members themselves can seek to work in the United States. In order to become employed in the United States, the H-4 visa-holders must obtain H-1B non-immigrant status themselves, just like their loved one. In order to do so, they must first seek employment, and the employer will then sponsor the visa-holder. The employer will file “Form I-129” on behalf of the applicant, and this effectively changes the individual’s status from H-4 to H-1B. Therefore, H-4 visa-holders may have the same ability to contribute to the United States economy in the same way their parent or spouse is currently doing.
Contact Geygan & Geygan, Ltd. to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you are interested in applying for a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States, whether for work purposes or any other purpose, you will need the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to help you through the process. At Geygan & Geygan, Ltd., our immigration attorneys have the experience necessary to help you apply for both non-immigrant visas as well as adjustment of status to take the path to permanent residency and citizenship. To speak with our immigration attorneys, contact us today at (513) 791-1673 to schedule a free consultation.