This non immigrant category allows the spouse and unmarried children under 21 to accompany H-1B category non immigrant workers, however they are not permitted to undertake employment while in H-4 status.
Effective May 26, 2015, H-4 spouses of certain H-1B non immigrants who are in the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status are eligible to apply for work authorization (EAD).
Other H-4 dependents cannot work in the United States.
While in status, an H-4 visa holder can attend school without changing to another non immigrant status.
An H-4 non immigrant spouse can apply for work authorization if his/her H-1B spouse:
- Is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
- Received an H-1B extension under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (known as AC21). This means that the H-1B principal must have received an extension of his or her H-1B status because:
- He/she is the beneficiary of a labor certification application filed with the labor Department 365 days prior to the end of the H-1B’s sixth year (preference category requires a labor certification) and the labor certification is either still pending or was approved and timely filed with Form I-140; OR
- He/she is the beneficiary of a form I-140 that was filed 365 days prior to the end of the H-1B’s sixth year (preference category does not require a labor certification or the labor certification can be waived) and Form I-140 is still pending.