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Us Student Visa Processing Time – A work visa is accompanied by various benefits for the person receiving it and his family. When obtaining certain work visas, beneficiaries can bring family members to the United States, some of whom receive more benefits than others. Learn how the H-4 dependent visa works, processing time, and how to obtain a work permit.
The H-4 visa is for spouses and dependents of H visa holders who wish to come to the United States with the primary H visa holder. Current H visas include:
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Your H-4 status will be tied to the status of the primary H visa holder, so if something happens that causes the primary holder to lose their status, you will also lose your status. Conversely, if the primary holder renews their status, USCIS will also renew your status.
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You can live and study in the US under H-4 status. Spouses of H-1B holders may also work if they have valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). Additionally, as of 2015, H-4 visa holders can apply for legal permanent residence (green cards).
With an H-4 visa, you can visit or accompany a spouse or parent working in the US with H-1B status.
If you are outside the US and do not have any other nonimmigrant visa status, you must go through a US consulate or embassy to obtain an H-4 visa. If your spouse or parent has an approved H-1B visa, you can apply for a DS-160 online application for a nonimmigrant visa.
After completing the application and paying the filing fee, be sure to print the payment confirmation and payment receipt. You can then make an appointment with the US consulate in your home country. There, you will be invited to a one-on-one interview with a consular officer to determine the legitimacy of your case. You may be asked questions about your H-4 visa, your spouse or parent, their employment, or their plans in the United States.
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If your application is approved and the interview goes well, the consulate will keep your passport and mail it to you with an H-4 visa stamp. You can then accompany or visit your H-1B parent or spouse in the US.
H-4 processing time is 5-9 months. However, the wait time generally depends on the caseload of the US consulate or embassy where you are going for your interview. You may need to plan your interview several weeks in advance. If you are approved, it will also take a few weeks for the embassy to send you your passport with the visa. You can check your consulate’s specific processing time by searching for the consulate city on the State Department site. In the table below you can see an example of processing times for New Delhi in 2023. You can also compare the efficiency of different embassies and consulates, referring to global waiting times. The form to initiate your H-4 application is the DS-160, which is usually the longest part of the application process.
If you want to extend your H-4 visa, you can apply for an extension, which usually takes 4-6 months to process. To begin the extension process, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. As with all USCIS forms, processing time depends on which center is evaluating your form.
If you already have an approved EAD (I-765) at the time of H-4, you can expect your H-4 visa extension to be processed a little faster, about 1 month faster.
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The processing time for changing H-4 status in 2023 will take 6-12 months (this does not include processing times for actual visa issuance at consulates). You must file Form I-485 to begin this process.
Talk to your immigration attorney to get a better idea of when your H-4 will be processed.
Unfortunately, while fee-based processing is occasionally helpful in expediting an H-1B petition, applicants cannot use it to expedite H-4 visa processing times or extend H-4 visas.
There are two requirements you must meet to obtain an H-4 work permit or H-4 EAD for spouses.
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Before you get an EAD, you are no longer qualified to do so. However, if this happens after the work permit is obtained, it will remain valid until the end of its validity period.
Also, if your spouse has multiple I-140s approved by USCIS, canceling one will not invalidate your EAD.
Alternatively, you may also qualify if your spouse is admissible for H-1B status under Sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness Act of 2000 (AC21). Talk to your immigration attorney to see if you qualify for this exception.
On the other hand, if your H-1B spouse loses his job, he has 60 days to find a new employer to sponsor his H-1B. If your spouse cannot find a new sponsoring employer, you will both be out of status. As a result, you will both have to leave the country and your EAD will be invalid. H-4 EAD tracking tools make several sites available. These can be useful for tracking the status of your submission.
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If you qualify, you can file an I-765 immigrant petition for an alien worker. You must also provide specific H-4 EAD documents to avoid unnecessary delays and Requests for Evidence (RFEs):
If and when USCIS approves your petition, you will be able to work. However, it is important that you do not work before this time, as working in the US without authorization may affect your ability to obtain an EAD, renew your status, or obtain a green card. It can even result in deportation.
Once you receive your EAD, you will enjoy the freedom to work in any capacity, whether full-time, part-time, or even working for multiple employers at the same time, just like your H-1B spouse. However, unlike your spouse, USCIS allows you to work for any employer and does not limit your sponsor. You are free to move from one job to another without jeopardizing your H-4 visa status.
The current processing time for USCIS Form I-765 (Employment Authorization, EAD) is 2-3 months. However, H-4 EAD premium processing reduces the wait time to just 30 days! A paid processing service will set you back $1,500.
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Fortunately, an important advantage of the H-4 visa is that it is dual-purpose, meaning you can apply for lawful permanent resident status without affecting your visa.
If you are under valid H-4 status, your green card process is the same as any other. You need to choose a green card based on what works best for your situation. Here are some methods.
If you have a green card, you can live and work freely in the US without a work permit. You also only have to renew your green card once every ten years and you don’t have to re-qualify.
In November 2021, AILA and USCIS settled a lawsuit regarding job/wage loss for spouses of H-4 and L-2 visa holders due to the processing of a backlog of COVID-related protocols at USCIS field offices and Trump administration mandates requiring H-4 and Earnings for Spouses of L-2 Visa Holders. -4 and L-2 visa applicants for biometrics when extending their stay.
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Our attorneys encounter many questions related to H-4 visas, and below you will find answers to the most common questions:
No, you cannot do this while your H-4 visa change of status application is pending, as USCIS will treat your departure as an abandonment of your application. If USCIS finds it abandoned, they will no longer process it and USCIS will deny it.
H-4 visa work authorization is valid for the duration of your H-4 status. Keep in mind that the validity of H-4 status depends on the primary H1B visa holder. If you reach the expiration date of your H-4 EAD, you can only extend it if your spouse has an approved I-140. The provision, which took effect in November 2021, allows H-4 spouses who filed their I-765 EAD extension promptly and maintained H-4 status after the EAD expires to qualify “for an automatic extension of their employment authorization 180 days after the expiration of their prior EAD or until their H- 4 to the end of status, whichever comes first.”
There is a 60-day grace period to obtain a new H-1B job. After that, USCIS will count both you and your spouse out of status and your EAD will be invalid.
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Which is usually faster, getting an H-4 visa stamp at a US consulate or changing H-4 status?
It is usually faster if you can make an appointment to get your H-4 visa stamped at your home country’s consulate because you eliminate USCIS processing delays. In addition, you can enter the United States without necessarily using the H-4 visa stamp in your passport
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