Guide to H4 Visa Extension for EAD

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on April 28, 2022

Disclosure: Stilt is a lending company. Nonetheless, we are committed to providing our users with high-quality resources and accurate information about immigration and finance.

H4 visas are issued to legal dependents, usually either spouses or children under 21 years of age, of an H1B visa holder. These dependents can accompany the H1B visa holder to the United States and are also eligible to work after obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the DHS. 

H4 visa EAD comes with an expiration date after which you will no longer be eligible to apply for work unless it is EADextended. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about extensions and the impact of COVID-19 on H4 visa holders.

Can H4 Visa Holders Extend Their EAD?

In short – yes, H4 visa holders, upon satisfying certain conditions, can apply for an Employment Authorization Document to work in the United States. 

When you initially apply for EAD, you will be required to file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and provide relevant documents. Once the application is complete, you will be eligible to work in the U.S. Like so many other immigration-related documents, though, your EAD card will come with an expiration date, which can be found printed under the “Card Expires” section of the card.

When the expiration date approaches,  an H4 visa holder can apply to extend their Employment Authorization Document as long as their spouse still has a valid H1B visa. If your spouse applies for an extension, you become eligible to apply for an extension too. After it is extended, you can stay and work in the United States.

How to Extend H4 EAD

After your work authorization period expires, you can file for an extension of stay or change by filing the required forms. To extend your H4 work authorization, you are required to:

  1. Submit Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status)
  2. Package your H4 EAD Application with Supporting Documents
  3. Mail your H4 EAD Application to USCIS
  4. Receive your H4 EAD Receipt Notice 

Under the Special Situations rules, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), at its discretion, will determine whether or not the late filing is feasible. 

Automatic H4 EAD Extension

In October 2021, the AILA filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, citing the lack of automatic EAD extensions for H4 and other visa holders as unjustified. In November 2021, the Department of Homeland Security settled the suit and H4 visa holders gained the right to automatic EAD extensions.

H4 spouses will qualify for the automatic extension of their valid EAD for 180 days beyond the date of the EAD expiration if the nonimmigrant spouse:

  • Files a Form I-765 before the current the EAD expires; and
  • Continues to maintain H-4 status beyond the expiration of the existing EAD

The validity of the expired EAD will be extended until the earliest of:

  • 180 days following the EAD expiration;
  • The expiration of the H4 dependent nonimmigrant’s I-94 record; or
  • When a final decision is made on the EAD extension application by USCIS.

For I-9 purposes, an H4 dependent employee may present: 

  • a facially expired EAD indicating Category C26, A18, or A17; 
  • Form I-797 (Notice of Action for Form I-765) with Class requested indicating (c)(26), (a)(18), or (a)(17) and showing that the I-765 EAD renewal application was filed before the EAD expired; and 
  • an unexpired I-94, showing valid H-4, L-2, or E dependent nonimmigrant status

Premium Processing For H4 EAD Extension

At present, there is no option for H4 EAD extension premium processing. A Bill (HR 8337) that included an H4 EAD extension expedited processing option was passed and signed into law in October 2020. In December 2021, President Biden submitted the regulation for OMB review. 

H4 Visa EAD Extension Cost

The total cost to file for an H4 EAD extension is $455. This cost is the sum total of multiple smaller costs, which we break down below:

ItemCost
Form I-539$370
Biometrics$85
Total Cost$455

COVID-19 and H4 Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people from all corners irrespective of class, religion, and status. H4 workers aren’t an exception. Many H4 workers have already found themselves either working from home or simply out of work. But fortunately, H4 visa holders have a few options to seek help.

H4 Visa EAD Extensions During COVID-19

In September 2019, the United States Department of Justice announced that it would make changes to the existing rules and introduce additional rules that would ultimately revoke the EAD from H4 visa holders. A time frame of March to June 2020 was set for the decision.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, proposed changes to H4 EAD were put on hiatus indefinitely as USCIS, DHS, ASC, and other government agencies had to suspend their day-to-day operations to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended the H4 biometrics requirement indefinitely, as the pandemic continues to impact the U.S.

In November 2020, Joe Biden was elected President of the United States and has since withdrawn the proposal to revoke H4 EAD. At the time of this writing, H4 visa holders still maintain the right to work in the U.S. and to extend their work authorization period. 

H4 Visa Unemployment Benefits

If you possess an EAD and were employed as an H4 visa holder, you are eligible for federal unemployment benefits. This is different from H1 visa holders, who can potentially jeopardize their visa status if they are unable to find an employer willing to sponsor them. They do not qualify for unemployment benefits since they do not remain tied to an employer. So being an H4 visa holder, you should check your state’s official website for more information on obtaining unemployment benefits.

While each state’s eligibility criteria are different, the general requirements are:

  • Must have work authorization, either the employment authorization document or EAD card
  • Must have valid work authorization at the time of employment
  • Should have valid work authorization when applying for unemployment benefits

H4 Visa Insurance

There are COVID-19 insurance packages available for which H4 visa holders can apply. Depending on your current circumstances, different options are available:

  • For H4 visa holders currently in the United States, a medical coverage package is the best solution right now. These packages cover unexpected medical expenses, supplemental travel expenses, bedside visit expenses, expenses due to death, and more.
  • If you’re waiting to enter the United States once the travel restrictions are lifted, then you can choose both travel and medical coverage packages. To apply for these packages, please visit the respective company’s website and apply online.

H4 Visa EAD Extension Next Steps

With so many changes happening at once, it can be overwhelming for H4 visa holders to keep track of the H4 visa EAD extension process. But armed with the info above, you should be able to easily manage the process and get your EAD extended.

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