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H-4 Family Resources

Inviting Family Members

Overview: spouses and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for H-4 status.

Inside the U.S. Change or Extension of Status (Form I-539)


See USCIS instructions for detailed information regarding obtaining H-4 status. See website for USCIS processing times: 

IFSO cannot submit concurrent I-539 applications with our I-129 H-1B petition filings, except for urgent cases where family members could fall out of status.

The I-539 application, supporting documents, and personal checks for dependents will no longer need to be collected and submitted to IFSO. (Instead, the beneficiary will submit the I-539 directly to USCIS after receiving the case number from the receipt or approval notice following our filing; in urgent circumstances, the scholar advisor will reach out directly to the beneficiary to consult on needed actions).

Dependents may apply for H-4 status at any time on their own, including the principal's H-1B I-797 receipt or approval notice that IFSO will provide you via e-mail. If the eligible dependent is inside the U.S., the dependent family member(s) would file a change of status application, Form I-539 with USCIS prior to the end date of the current immigration status.

Travel and Change of Status
In most cases, a petition that is filed inside the U.S. to change status from one nonimmigrant status to another is canceled if travel takes place after the petition is filed with USCIS and before it is approved.  Dependents who have a change of status petition pending with the USCIS should consult with an international scholar advisor prior to making travel plans.

I-539 Online Filing I-539 Paper Filing
Each applicant would be required to pay the filing fee (can be costly for multiple family members) Only one application fee for multiple applicants/family members
Get your application into USCIS' processing queue faster than mail delivery Mail your application to USCIS using courier services such as FedEx or USPS tracking
Ensure you are using the correct version of the form Remember to verify you are using the correct version before submitting the I-539 
Communicate with USCIS directly using MyUscis account, without sending or receiving paper mail Remember to check mail for receipt notices and you can check case status online using the receipt notice number
USCIS will notify you about your biometrics (fingerprint) appointment via your MyUSCIS account. Be sure to check your account regularly for updates to not miss your appointment.  USCIS will mail the biometrics (fingerprint) appointment notice via regular USPS postal services. Check your mail regularly for the appointment notice. 
I-539 supporting documentation can be uploaded online; including information regarding the H-1B primary's immigration status Remember to submit the I-539 supporting documentation per the I-539 instructions; including information regarding the H-1B primary's immigration status

H-4 start date usually coincides/matches H-1B approval or requested start date

Note: F-1 STEM OPT or OPT Change of status applicants may want to have H-4 start the day after EAD expiration

H-4 start date usually coincides/matches H-1B approval or requested start date; 

Note: F-1 STEM OPT or OPT Change of status applicants may want to have H-4 start the day after EAD expiration

Have option to pay with credit card Can pay with check or money order


Outside of the U.S. Applying for an H-4 Visa Abroad

If the dependent member(s) are outside of the U.S. or travel outside of the U.S. after the I-539 Change of status to H-4 has been approved, a dependent may apply for an H-4 visa (entry stamp) at the U.S. Consulate with the original Form I-797 of the H-1B principal. We recommend you check the U.S. Consulate’s website for specific information and required documentation. We also recommend the H-4 dependent visa applicant show at the minimum the following documents:
  • Original Form I-797 of the H-1B principal
  • Original Form I-797 of the H-4 dependent(s) (only if applicable and change of status to H-4 approved inside US previously)
  • H-4 spouse: proof of legal marriage with certified English translations, if needed
  • H-4 dependent children: proof of relationship (e.g. birth certificate or family registry) with certified English translations, if needed
  • Evidence of employment: employment verification letter and 2 month’s recent pay statements for H1-B principal, if the H-1B is currently inside the U.S. in H-1B status

Please see the Travel & Re-Entry section for further information.

H-4 Study

H-4 dependents may study in the U.S., full- or part-time. Dependents should weigh the benefits of changing their status to F-1 versus remaining in H-4 status.

International Family Orientation and Tour


Due to COVID19, Family Orientation is currently on hold.


Programs and Events

Additional Resources

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Contact IFSO!

International Faculty & Scholars Office (IFSO)
Phone: (858) 246-1448