I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
H4 Visa Rejection: Why You were Rejected and What You Can Do
This article was reviewed by Rohit Mittal – co-founder of Stilt, Inc, financial expert, and immigrant. To learn more about Rohit’s credentials, visit his LinkedIn, Substack, and Twitter.
Did you recently go through all the effort of filing an H4 visa application only to have your application declined? Are you perhaps wondering why the U.S. government would decline H4 visa applications? Or do you want to make extra sure you have all your bases covered before you submit your application?
Before you can start worrying about ways to finance your spouse’s H4 visa studies, you first have to ensure that their H4 visa is actually approved. Here you can find the foremost reasons why H4 visa rejection takes place in so many H4 applications. Use the information found here to gain more insight and perhaps even improve your chances of success in your next application.
What is an H4 Visa?
Before we can look into reasons for H4 visa rejection we first need to look at what an H4 visa is. An H4 visa is a nonimmigrant dependent visa. The visa does not grant you permanent residency, but it gives you the privilege to live, study, and work here (if you have an H4 EAD).
The validity of your H4 visa is dependent on the visa of its sponsor (also referred to as the principal applicant). Your H-type visa spouse or parent will be the sponsor for your H4 visa. Your visa will become invalid whenever your visa expires. Beware, you’ll also have to renew your H4 visa before it expires. Start the renewal process at least 180 days before it expires.
Here is a list of the privileges you get in the U.S. when you are the holder of a valid H4 visa:
- You are eligible for a driver’s license
- You have the opportunity to study (if you are looking for an H4 visa study loan take a look here)
- You become eligible for financial services like banking and an H4 visa loan
- You become eligible for an ITIN (Tax ID for IRS tax purposes)
- You are allowed to work in the U.S. (provided you have an H4 EAD).
Who is Eligible for an H4 Visa?
The H4 visa is only available to certain people. You need to fulfill the eligibility criteria or else your application will face H4 visa rejection.
You will only be eligible for an H4 visa if:
- Your spouse (of a bona fide marriage) is the holder of a type H visa, or
- Your parent is the holder of a type H visa and you are under the age of 21.
If you are unsure about your eligibility, you can ask an immigration attorney. Also, take note that some H-type visas do not allow dependent visa holders to work in the U.S.
3 Common Reasons for H4 Visa Rejection
The last thing you want is to have an H4 visa rejection for reasons you could have avoided. So to make it easy to avoid common mistakes, here are the 3 most common reasons for H4 visa rejection.
This refusal revolves around the state poverty line. The state poverty line is a way to measure and determine whether someone can take care of their dependents. The visa sponsor (or principal applicant) must be able to take care of their H4 dependents. The application for the H4 visa will, therefore, be rejected by a 212(A)(4) refusal if the financial means of the principal applicant does not meet or exceed the state poverty line.
This is done to prevent people from becoming a financial burden or obligation to the U.S. government. People who can’t take care of themselves place pressure on the economy and are at risk of public charge (a situation where taxpayers’ money has to finance their day-to-day living).
The best way to improve your chances of success after this refusal is to prove financial means by submitting the following information for the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to consider:
- Bank accounts that prove a sustained balance over time
- Stocks and bonds that prove present cash value and expected earnings
- Personal property ownership or real estate investments in the form of title deeds proving ownership
You need to convince the USCIS that the principal applicant has the means to take care of the intended visa beneficiary and that they won’t become a risk to public charge.
The 214(b) refusal focuses on the visa beneficiary’s intentions after visiting the U.S. The USCIS wants to see that you fulfill three eligibility requirements – that you:
- Intend to return to your home country following a temporary stay in the U.S.
- Have the financial means to afford the trip to the U.S. without the need to seek unauthorized employment whilst staying here
- Intend to use the visa for legitimate purposes allowed by your visa category.
The consular officer presiding over the case regards the H4 visa applicant as an immigrant (meaning you intend to settle in the U.S.) until you convince them otherwise by proving you are a nonimmigrant. You can prove you are a nonimmigrant by supplying sufficient reason to return to your home country. Reasons can be having family back home or social, economic, and other overall circumstances that prove your intentions to move back.
Before we go deeper into this matter it is important that you understand the following. Before your spouse or parent got their job in the U.S. it was sent to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for LCA (Labor Condition Approval). According to the LCA requirements, the salary for the job can’t be lower than the prevailing wage for the specific area in which the job is performed.
So at the end of each year, the employer sends a W2 form for all its employees detailing their income. But the problem arises when the W2 form’s income is lower than the salary posted on the LCA used to approve the job for the H1B visa holder.
You’ll get a 221(g) refusal if the principal applicant’s yearly salary on their form W2 is lower than the salary on the LCA. Your best advice in such a situation would come from an immigration attorney. They will help you reapply for the H4 visa with greater success. The key is to always tell the truth. You need to find a way to convince the consular officer why the W2 income is lower than the LCA salary and hopefully, they will find a way to legitimately grant you an H4 visa.
Can an H4 Visa be Reapplied for After Refusal?
Assuming you didn’t break the law whilst in the U.S. and that the visa status of your principal applicant still remains valid, you can reapply for an H4 visa after an H4 visa rejection. So an H4 visa rejection is not an automatic end of your plans.
Where someone has broken U.S. immigration law they will be barred from future applications, however. These immigration bans can be for either a temporary period or a lifetime. It depends on the decision of the immigration court.
- Complete Guide to the H4 Visa in the U.S.
- Complete Guide to Working on an H4 Visa in the U.S.
- H4 Visa Extension for EAD
- DS 160 for H4 Visa: What You Should Know about It
- Complete Guide to H4 Visa Interview Questions
- How Can I Get a Driving License on an H4 Visa?
The different types of H4 visa rejections have different impacts on your immigration attempts. The way you approach each type of refusal will depend on your unique situation. Ask an immigration attorney to guide you through your immigration process if you are encountering difficult obstacles.
H4 visa refusal does not mean the end of your immigration attempts, however. Prove that you haven’t broken the conditions of your visa or the law and reapply for your visa with a stronger application. Eliminate the problems in your previous attempts and rejoin your family in the U.S.