H-4 visas are issued to spouses and minor children of H-1B visa holders. H-4 visas are only valid as long as their H-1B family member is authorized to stay in the United States. If the H-1B visa holder loses his or her job and cannot find new employment, the H-4 visa dependents will ultimately lose their status.
What you can do with an H-4 visa
- Study at a U.S. school
- Obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for tax purposes
- Open a U.S. bank account
- Get a U.S. driver’s license
- Change your H-4 status to another visa status, if you’re eligible, by filing Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
- Legally work in the United States if your H-1B holder spouse has an approved I-140 application or a pending PERM labor certification application
What you can’t do with an H-4 visa
- Obtain a Social Security Number
- Legally work in the United States if your H-1B holder spouse doesn’t have an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker application or a pending PERM labor certification application
Additional information about H-4 work authorization
If the H-1B holder doesn’t have an approved I-140 application, he or she needs a pending PERM labor certification application. Note: It must be pending for at least 365 days and his or her H-1B status must have extended past the six-year limit.