Can International Students Study On An H4 Visa and Get In-State Tuition?

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Studying for an MS or MBA in the US on an H4 visa offers great professional opportunities, a chance to break from routine, and build knowledge.
  • H4 visa holders lack financial independence and struggle to actively participate in society, leading to frustration and depression.
  • Pursuing higher education allows them to use time wisely, contribute to society, and enhance career prospects.
  • The US has renowned universities, endless educational options, and a thriving tech and innovation scene.

Every year tons of spouses of H1B Visa holders ask themselves the same questions, some of them being: Can I study in the US on an H4 visa? If I can study on an H4 visa, will I be able to apply for in-state tuition in order to afford my studies?

We’ve decided to write an article to help answer these questions and give you further insight on the H4 visa dilemma. This article will give you all the information you need to know about studying on an H4 visa in the US, as well as outline advantages and disadvantages of studying on the visa so you can make the best decisions for your future in the US.

Why study for an MS or MBA in the US?

Studying for a Master’s degree in the US presents a great professional opportunity for H4 visa holders. Moreover, it allows H4 visa holders to break from their regular routine and develop and build their knowledge while they live in the US.

H4 visa holders are dependent on their spouses and do not have any financial independence or side jobs they can legally take on while they are in the US. This makes it hard for the visa holders to feel like they are contributing or participating actively in society, which can lead to bouts of depression and feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction in their lives.

The solution to this could be pursuing higher education so that H4 visa holders can use their time wisely, actively participate in society, and build their skills and abilities for future career development.

The United States is home to some of the world’s leading universities, and the variety of possible educational opportunities are enticing and endless. On top of that, the US is on the forefront in technology, research, and innovation, so you might want to explore your educational options in the leading nation while on your H4 visa.

Lastly, studying in the US also offers more indirect benefits than the obvious ones already mentioned: if you choose to study in the US, you open yourself up more to adapting to a new culture and developing friendships that can increase the quality of life in your new home. Studying will get you out of the house and help you build relationships that can bring you more life satisfaction.

Is in-state tuition in the US also available for H4 visa holders?

Yes, In-state tuition is available for H4 visa holders in the US. However, different schools and states have different application schemes and policies for the process. Therefore, it is recommended that you check with the desired school on their specific application policies in order to be sure of their respective rules regarding H4 tuition policies.

While in-state tuition should be available for all public universities, keep in mind that in-state tuition is not available for all private institutions.

Generally speaking, there are several conditions H4 visa holders must meet in order to apply for in-state tuition.

Conditions H4 visa holders must meet to apply for in-state tuition:

  • The H4 visa holder has to be married to an H1B visa holder
  • The H4 visa holder has to be dependent on the H1B visa holder for at least a year
  • The H4 visa holder and the H1B visa holder have to live in the same state for at least a year and have proof of residency
  • The H1B visa holder of the dependent H4 visa holder has to pay state taxes

Apart from varying university policies, the rules described above are the main requirements you should meet in order to apply for an in-state tuition. If you fall in line with the rules, let’s take a look at what you have to do to get money-saving, in-state tuition in the US.

How can I prepare for in-state tuition on an H4 visa?

You want to prepare yourself as much as possible when it comes to following through with your educational goals in the US.

If you are an H4 visa holder and have met the requirements listed before, you can now start to get things going so you can save money with in-state tuition for your education. The same rules apply when moving from one state to another, so this could be useful for those of you migrating through the United States as well.

5 steps to prepare you for in-state tuition on an H4 Visa

  1. Make sure to get a state driving license in the first week upon arrival.
  2. Register your car and obtain an official registration number plate.
  3. When renting a house or apartment, make sure the rental agreement has to be under the H1B visa holders name.
  4. File your tax return at the end of the year.
  5. Open a new bank account in the state you are living in.

Having followed all five steps, nothing should go wrong with your in-state tuition application. Still, it is highly recommended to check with the desired university on their established policies on tuition allowances.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Studying on an H4 Visa

There are advantages and disadvantages when deciding to study on a H4 visa in the US. While obtaining degree is an advantage, the process of actually obtaining it can be complex and difficult. Listed below, you will find some advantages and disadvantages of studying on an H4 visa:

Advantages of studying on an H4 Visa

  • Save 50 to 60% on university tuition fees
  • Study full-time
  • You don’t necessarily have to work
  • Previous learning advantages from home country
  • With a completed master’s program, you can apply for the H1B Visa (in the Master’s category)

Disadvantages of studying on an H4 Visa

  • Can’t utilize other university funding options
  • You won’t be able to do an optional or curricular practical training
  • Have to wait one year on arrival to the US to be able to apply for tuition

Clearly, there are disadvantages when choosing to study on an H4 visa, but the pros outweigh the cons depending on where you are in your life, and how satisfied you feel with your limited job opportunities as an H4 visa holder.

We suggest that you weigh both the advantages and the disadvantages of studying on ah H4 visa so that you can make the right decision for your unique situation. It is also important to remember that doing a Master’s or an MBA in the United States is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which doesn’t come along often for most people.

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Yes — it requires a bit of effort on your part to be able to receive in-state tuition, but it will definitely be worth it once you have graduated and obtained your master’s degree at a more affordable price. You then open yourself up to the possibility of obtaining an H1B visa where you will be allowed to work and build your wealth and knowledge in the United States.

If you take this route, you will have a higher chance of getting your H1B petition approved, so make sure to consider this advantage if you can see yourself becoming a highly skilled professional employee in the US.

We hope we have been able to answer your questions and wish you much luck as you pursue your educational and professional goals in your new home! If you have any questions about the process, or wish to share your experience getting in-state tuition on an H4 visa, let us know in the comments section below please!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can international students study in the U.S. on an H-4 visa?

Yes, international students can study in the United States on an H-4 visa. An H-4 visa is typically issued to dependents (spouse and children) of H-1B visa holders. While it allows for residence in the U.S., H-4 visa holders can enroll in educational programs, including schools and universities.

Can H-4 visa holders qualify for in-state tuition rates at U.S. colleges and universities?

In most cases, H-4 visa holders do not qualify for in-state tuition rates at U.S. colleges and universities. In-state tuition rates are typically reserved for individuals who meet specific residency requirements, such as U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or individuals with specific visas that grant them residency status in the state.

Are there any exceptions that allow H-4 visa holders to pay in-state tuition?

There may be limited exceptions that vary by state and institution. Some states or universities may offer in-state tuition rates to certain categories of non-immigrant visa holders, including H-4 visa holders, if they meet specific criteria. These criteria can include establishing residency in the state or demonstrating financial independence.

What factors determine eligibility for in-state tuition rates for international students?

Eligibility for in-state tuition rates for international students typically depends on factors such as:

  • Residency requirements of the state or institution.
  • Visa status and duration of stay in the U.S.
  • Financial independence or financial support within the state.
  • Immigration status, including specific visas that may grant eligibility.

It’s essential to check with the specific college or university and the state’s higher education agency to understand their policies regarding in-state tuition for H-4 visa holders or other non-immigrant visa holders.

Are there any alternatives for H-4 visa holders to reduce the cost of education?

H-4 visa holders seeking to reduce the cost of education can explore various options, including:

  • Scholarships and grants: Some institutions and organizations offer scholarships and grants to international students based on academic merit or specific criteria.
  • Community colleges: Starting at a community college and then transferring to a four-year institution can be a cost-effective option.
  • Online education: Online courses and degree programs may offer flexibility and potentially lower costs.
  • Pursuing financial aid or loans: While options may be limited for non-U.S. citizens, some private lenders or institutions may offer education loans with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Can H-4 visa holders work in the U.S. while studying?

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, H-4 visa holders were not automatically eligible to work in the U.S. However, the eligibility rules and policies regarding work authorization for H-4 visa holders may change over time. It’s advisable to check with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date information on work authorization for H-4 visa holders.

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