Skip to main content

H-4 Family Resources

Overview: legally married spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for H-4 status. Note: Should the H-1B status end, the H-4 status also ends.

ISEO will only submit H-4 requests to USCIS that are submitted concurrently with the H-1B petition. Otherwise, we have listed helpful resources below to obtain H-4 status independently. 

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

Options to Change or Extend Status inside the U.S.(Form I-539)

Dependents in the U.S. needing a change of status or eextension H-4 status can apply for H-4 status the following ways:

  1. Request ISEO submit the completed I-539 application (H-4 application) concurrently with H-1B request
    • ISEO can concurrently submit H-4 applications with the H-1B petition filing. However, as the H-4 application is a personal application, ISEO cannot review the application or evidence. The H-4 request including I-539 application(s), supporting documents, and USCIS H-4 payment will need to be provided to ISEO to include with the H-1B petition. The H-4 request can be dropped off at ISEO's Front Desk.
      • The benefit of concurrently filing with the H-1B petition is that if the H-1B petition is being premium processed by USCIS, USCIS will also apply premium processing to simultaneously filed I-539 and I-765 applications (if any).
  2. Submit I-539 application independently with USCIS requesting a change to or extension of H-4 status (filing paper or online).
    • Dependents can also apply for H-4 status at any time on their own, using the principal's H-1B receipt or approval notice that ISEO will provide you via e-mail.
      • Reminder, If the eligible dependent is inside the U.S., the dependent family member(s) would need to file a change of status application (Form I-539) with USCIS prior to the end date of the current immigration status.

Important implications of international travel while a change of status I-539 petition to H-4 status is pending 
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.

Preparing H-4 Change or Extension of Status

Note

We have included information below to help you navigate the USCIS website. As USCIS frequently updates their requirements and forms, please verify the requirements on the USCIS website www.uscis.gov/i-539 for detailed information regarding obtaining H-4 status.  

Tips for Completing H-4 I-539 Application(s)

Form I-539 is a personal application, and you and your dependent(s) are responsible for making sure that the application is completed correctly and all fees and documents are included. 

Forms Fees Check Issuance Guide USCIS Instructions IFSO Form Tips

Form I-539

Form is only needed for primary H-4 applicant

$370

only needed for Form I-539

One check.

Check must be made out to “US Department of Homeland Security.”

In the “Memo” section of check, write the name of each applicant and co-applicant. 

USCIS Form I-539 (PDF)

I-539 guide (PDF)

Form I-539A

Form is only needed for co-applicants (additional H-4 dependents)

No fee for H-4 co-applicants.

-

 

USCIS Form I-539A (PDF)

I-539A guide (PDF)

Tip: The fee indicated above is not applicable for individuals seeking H-1B status; these fees are for dependents seeking a change or extension of status to H-4 status. H-1B applicants have their own set of H-1B fees.

 

H-4 Request Documentation

  • Completed Form I-539
  • Payment to USCIS for Form I-539: Payment to USCIS for the processing of the Form I-539 can be made using a personal check or the USCIS credit card authorization form. 
    • Payment via Check or Money order: Made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $370 (three hundred and seventy dollars). 
    • Payment via USCIS Payment form: Complete USCIS Form G-1450, make sure to indicate the authorized payment amount as $370. On Form G-1450 in the Applicant's/Petitioners/Requesters Information indicate the name of the H-4 dependent listed on Form I-539.
  • Completed Form I-539A (if applicable): If there will be more than one dependent changing or extending their status, complete form I-539A for each additional applicant. 
    • There is no additional fee for additional H-4 dependents included. 
  • Evidence for each H-4 applicant
    • Passport Page: Most recent passport biographical page with date of expiration at least 6 months in the future
    • Most Recent I-94 Record: I-94 admission record from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ 
    • Visa Stamp: Most recent U.S. visa stamp in passport (Except Canadians)
    • Entry Stamp: Most recent U.S. entry stamp, if given one
    • Immigration Documents (as applicable):
      • ALL Employment Authorization Cards (EAD)
      • I-612 Waiver Document
      • ALL DS-2019s 
      • Evidence of maintenance of status from last entry into the U.S.:
        • ALL I-20s
        • ALL DS-2019s 
        • ALL I-797 approval notices (H, L, O, TN)
    • Proof of relationship to principal applicant:
      • Marriage Certificate: for spouse as proof of relationship to the H-1B. Do not submit originals, copies are acceptable. 
      • Birth Certificate: for children under 21 as proof of relationship to the H-1B. Do not submit originals, copies are acceptable. 
    • From H-1B holder (if not filing concurrently with H-1B):
      • Copy of Form I-797 Receipt Notice, if H-1B request is already pending with USCIS
      • Copy of Form I-797 Approval Notice, if H-1B request is already approved by USCIS

Submitting H-4 to ISEO for Concurrent Filing with H-1B Petition

Submitting H-4 (Form I-539) Application(s) to ISEO

The H-4 request can be submitted to ISEO's Front Desk as a packet. You do not need to staple the documents, using paper clips/binder clips is acceptable. You can put in a folder/manila envelope anything to safely transport the packet to ISEO's office but note that we will take the documents out to include with the H-1B petition. 

A complete H-4 request submitted to ISEO should include: 
  • Completed Form I-539
  • Payment to USCIS for Form I-539: Payment to USCIS for the processing of the Form I-539 can be made using a personal check or the USCIS credit card authorization form. 
    • Payment via Check or Money order: Made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $370 (three hundred and seventy dollars). 
    • Payment via USCIS Payment form: Complete USCIS Form G-1450, make sure to indicate the authorized payment amount as $370. On Form G-1450 in the Applicant's/Petitioners/Requesters Information indicate the name of the H-4 dependent listed on Form I-539.
  • Completed Form I-539A (if applicable): Only needed for co-applicants, additional H-4 dependents.
    • There is no additional fee for additional H-4 dependents included. 
  • Supporting evidence for each H-4 applicant

Limited ISEO Review

I-539 (H-4) applications are personal applications, therefore ISEO cannot review the information on the applications, supporting documentation, or USCIS payment provided to ISEO.

ISEO can only review the following sections to ensure they match with the H-1B information:

    • On Form I-539: Part 2 to ensure the information matches with H-1B petition.
    • On Form I-539: Part 3 question 1, requested status end date to ensure date matches with H-1B petition.
    • Correct fee/amount is indicated on the USCIS payment 

**The completed H-4 request: I-539 applications, USCIS payment and supporting documentation will be included with the H-1B request without further review.**

USCIS Processing

USCIS will receive the H-4 request with the H-1B submission.

If USCIS has any questions regarding the H-4 submission, they can issue a request for evidence (RFE) via mail to the U.S. mailing address (personal home address) listed on the I-539 request form. Please check your mail regularly. 

The H-4 approval notice(s) will be mailed to the U.S. mailing address (personal home address) listed on the I-539 request form; the H-4 approval notice(s) will not be mailed to ISEO with the H-1B approval. 

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

Options to apply for H-4 Visa Abroad

If the dependent(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 review the U.S. Consulate’s website for specific information and required documentation. We also recommend the H-4 dependent visa applicant show, at 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)
  • If applying as H-4 spouse: proof of legal marriage with English translations, if needed
  • If applying as H-4 dependent children: proof of relationship (e.g. birth certificate or family registry) with English translations, if needed
  • If the H-1B is currently inside the U.S. in H-1B status: evidence of employment from H-1B which could include employment verification letter and 2 month’s recent pay statements.

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

Resources

H-4 Employment

There are limited exceptions for an H-4 to obtain employment authorization, see USCIS’s website

Certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if the H-1B nonimmigrant:

  • Is the principal beneficiary (H-1B) of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21).

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.

Living in the U.S.

Programs and Events