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The Process of Obtaining an H-4 Visa: A Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: Nov 9, 2023


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To apply for an H-4 visa, follow these steps:


a. Completing the DS-160 Form: Fill out the online DS-160 visa application form, providing all required personal information and details.


b. Paying the Visa Fees: Pay the visa application fee (separate from the H-1B visa application fee) as required by the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be applying.


c. Scheduling the Visa Interview: Schedule an appointment for a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.


d. Preparing Documents: Gather necessary documents, including a valid passport, DS-160 confirmation page, visa fee receipt, marriage certificate (if applicable), proof of relationship to the H-1B visa holder, and any other supporting documents as required.


e. Visa Interview: Attend the visa interview on the scheduled date. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship to the H-1B visa holder and your intention to stay temporarily in the United States.


f. Visa Approval: If approved, your passport will be returned to you with the H-4 visa affixed.


4. Duration and Extensions: The H-4 visa is typically granted for the same duration as the H-1B visa holder's status. It can be extended as long as the primary H-1B visa holder maintains their status, or if they apply for a Green Card.


5. Work Authorization: H-4 visa holders were previously not allowed to work in the United States, but a rule change in 2015 now allows some H-4 visa holders to obtain employment authorization. Eligibility for employment authorization is limited to certain H-4 visa holders whose H-1B spouses are in the process of applying for a Green Card.


6. Study and Education: H-4 visa holders are eligible to study in the United States, either full-time or part-time, at an accredited educational institution. They may need to obtain a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Form I-20 from their chosen educational institution.


Remember, immigration regulations can change, and individual circumstances may vary. It is always recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or seek professional advice to ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the H-4 visa.

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