H-4 Visa: What are the benefits?

January 6, 2014 Patty Johnson-Vazquez

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.

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