How to Transfer from an H-1B to H-4 Visa

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Yes, it is possible to switch from an H1B visa to an H4 visa if you meet certain eligibility criteria.
  • To make the switch, you must have a valid spouse who holds an H1B visa, be legally married to your spouse, and not intend to work once your H4 visa is approved.
  • The process involves filing Form I-539 and providing supporting documents such as passports, approval notices, Form I-94, paystubs, and marriage certificate.
  • It is important to start the change of status process about 2-3 months before your current H1B visa expires. Consulting an immigration attorney is recommended to ensure you fulfill the specific requirements and procedures.

Are you on an H-1B visa and you’ve reached the end of your employment agreement? Or is your H-1B visa about to expire? Are you running out of time and wondering what you can do to stay in the U.S. with your family? There might be a way for you to get a dependent visa and remain with your family.

If your spouse has an H-1B visa you might have a very good shot at changing status from H-1B to H-4 dependent visa. This will help you stay in the U.S. and also allow you time to search for new employment. Use the information provided here to aid in your effort for a dependent visa.

Can I Switch from an H-1B Visa to an H-4 Visa?

Yes, you can definitely switch from an H-1B to H-4 visa if you are eligible. You can switch your visa status if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your spouse has a valid H-1B visa
  • You are in a legal bona fide marriage with your spouse
  • You won’t be working when your H-4 visa is approved.

How to Transition from an H-1B Visa to an H-4 Visa

Here are the steps to transition from an H-1B visa to an H-4 visa:

1. Determine Eligibility:

Make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • Your spouse has a valid H-1B visa.
  • You are legally married to your spouse.
  • You will not be working once your H-4 visa is approved.

2. Prepare Documents:

Gather the necessary documents for the change of status process. These include:

  • Form I-539 – Application to change nonimmigrant status.
  • Copies of passports for both you and your spouse.
  • Approval notice of your current H-1B visa.
  • Form I-94 – Your latest Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
  • Paystubs for the last year for both you and your spouse.
  • Copy of your spouse’s H-1B visa.
  • H-1B visa approval notice for your spouse.
  • Copy of your marriage certificate.

3. Start the Process

Begin the change of status process approximately 2-3 months before your current H-1B visa expires. File Form I-539 and submit all the required documents to the USCIS.

4. Await USCIS Decision

The processing time for an H-1B to H-4 change of status is typically 2-3 months. During this time, the USCIS may request additional information or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). It’s important to respond promptly and provide any requested information.

5. Receive H-4 Visa Approval

Once your H-4 visa is approved, your H-1B visa does not automatically expire. However, you must stop working immediately. If you wish to work, you can consider applying for an H-4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Consult an Immigration Attorney (Optional)

If you have any doubts or concerns throughout the process, it’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney. They can provide guidance specific to your situation and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements.

H-1B to H-4 Cost

The current government filing fee for transitioning from an H-1B visa to an H-4 visa is $190. However, this fee is subject to change, and it’s recommended to check with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information regarding the costs associated with the H-4 visa process.

H-1B to H-4 Processing Time

The processing time for transitioning from an H-1B visa to an H-4 visa is typically between 5 to 9 months. This duration can vary depending on the caseload of the U.S. consulate or embassy where the interview is scheduled. It’s important to note that the processing times may change, and it’s advisable to schedule your interview well in advance due to these variations.

What if Your H-1B to H-4 Application is Rejected?

It’s not nice if your H-1B to H-4 change of status is rejected. There are a few ways in which this can play out and each has its own procedures. Let’s look at the most prominent scenarios.

Application for a new type of visa

You could possibly apply and get a new type of visa before your current visa expires. Ask an immigration attorney about which type of visa you should apply for (if any).

Move back to your home country

You understand you don’t have a valid visa anymore. You decide to move back to your home country and proceed with your immigration attempts from there.

You overstay and face removal procedures

You don’t have a valid visa anymore. You aren’t allowed to stay or work in the U.S. The USCIS knows this since they keep this information on record. They will place you under removal procedures if you don’t depart.

We can’t make any assumptions or recommendations without knowledge of your situation. Ask an immigration attorney what your best option is and execute it.

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Final Thoughts

Life in the U.S. holds many opportunities and you probably experienced it on your employment-related H-1B visa. You had a great job and you could help provide for your family in the process. But for some reason, your H-1B visa is expiring and you need to change status.

Change your visa status from H-1B to H-4 if you have a spouse with an H1 visa. This will help you to get a valid visa status which allows you to stay in the U.S. You may not work on an H-4 visa but you could perhaps get an H-4 EAD. This will allow you the opportunity to get a job. Get some legal advice from an immigration attorney and start today.

Transitioning from H-1B to H-4 Visa FAQ

What is an H-4 Visa?

An H-4 visa is a visa issued by the U.S. to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of H-1B visa holders.

What is the cost to transition from H-1B to H-4?

The government filing fee for an H-4 visa application is currently $190. However, this fee is subject to change.

How long does it take to process an H-4 Visa?

The processing time for an H-4 visa typically ranges from 5 to 9 months, depending on the caseload at the relevant U.S. consulate or embassy.

Can I work on an H-4 Visa?

H-4 visa holders may work in the U.S. if they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Do I need to leave the U.S. to transition from H-1B to H-4?

It is not always necessary to leave the U.S. to transition from an H-1B to an H-4 visa. You may apply for a change of status while remaining in the U.S., but specific circumstances can vary.

How do I apply for an H-4 Visa?

The application for an H-4 visa involves filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and paying the required fee.

Are there any risks involved in transitioning from H-1B to H-4?

One potential risk is the processing time, which can impact your employment if you are transitioning to an H-4 without an EAD. It’s important to plan accordingly.

Can my children study in the U.S. on an H-4 Visa?

Yes, children on an H-4 visa can attend school in the United States.

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Frank Gogol

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.

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