H-4 classifies dependent spouses of nonimmigrants who are on the H-1B visa. H-4 spouses may apply through Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, commonly referred to as H4 EAD.
What is an H-4 EAD?
In order for the spouse of an H-1B visa holder to legally work, he or she must obtain the H-4 Employment Authorization for Dependent Spouses visa. Otherwise, he or she will only be able to reside within the U.S. with their employed H-1B holding spouse.
This rule was set in place in 2015 to make the transition of highly educated foreign employees coming to the U.S. for work less disruptive to couples and families.
Who qualifies for the H-4 EAD visa?
In order to qualify as a H-4 visa holding spouse, your H-1B nonimmigrant spouse must:
- Have an approved Form I-140, Immigration Petition or an Alien Worker; or
- Have been granted H-1B status
How do I apply for the H4 EAD?
- Complete form I-765
- Submit supporting evidence
- Your H-4 status
- A copy of a current Form I-797 approval for Form I-539
- A copy of Form I-94 showing admission of H-4 status
- Official identification issued by the government
- A copy of your last EAD
- Copy of your passport
- Birth certificate with photo ID
- Visa issued by a foreign consulate
- National ID document with photo
- Your relationship to the H-1B immigrant
- Copy of your marriage certificate
- Basis of eligibility
- Copy of Form I-797 for Form I-140 filed for H-1B immigrant
- Evidence that the H-1B nonimmigrant has been admitted or granted an extension of stay under AC21 sections 106(a) and (b).
- Two identical 2×2 inch passport photos
- Your H-4 status
Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I still eligible for employment authorization if my spouse loses his or her approved I-140 petition and his or her H-1B status?
- No, you are only eligible if your spouse has H-1B status.
- If your spouse loses H-1B status while you have H-4 EAD, USCIS has the right to revoke your employment authorization.
- Do I need to be in the U.S. to apply for H-4 EAD status?
- Yes, you must already have H-4 status and anyone residing outside of the U.S. cannot have H-4 status.
- Can I travel while I apply for H-4 status?
- You may travel but this may cause delays or denials for employment authorization. Therefore, it is suggested that you stay in the U.S. while applying for H-4 status.