H4 Spouses and Children

Spouses and children under the age of 21 of the H-1B, H-2A, H-2B visa holders may accompany them to the United States as H-4 nonimmigrants.

H-4 status is free to change his status to an H-1B because the time spent in H-4 status is not counted toward the six year maximum on H-1Bs.

Effective May 26, 2015, eligible H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B nonimmigrants may apply for employment authorization. Those eligible include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who:

  • Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted H-1B status in the US under the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21). AC21 permits H-1B workers seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit.

If H-4 dependent spouse is granted employment authorization based on H-4 status, employment authorization is unrestricted. This means that employment authorization is not limited to a specific employer. It also does not prohibit self-employment or starting a business, including situations where the H-4 nonimmigrant hires individuals as employees of their business.