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H-4 Family Resources

Inviting Family Members

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

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

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. 

Dependents in the U.S. needing or extending H-4 status can obtain/extend their H-4 status the following ways:

  1. Request IFSO submit the completed I-539 application (H-4 application) simultaneously with H-1B request
    • IFSO can concurrently submit H-4 applications (I-539 applications) with the I-129 H-1B petition filing. However, as the H-4 application is a personal application, IFSO cannot review this information. The beneficiary will need to submit the I-539 application(s), supporting documents, and personal check for H-4 applicants to IFSO's Front Desk to allow for IFSO to include the application with the H-1B filing. 
    • If the I-129 H-1B petition is premium processed by USCIS, they 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 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.

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.

Tips for Completing H-4 I-539 Applications

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.

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USCIS Form I-539A (PDF)

I-539A guide (PDF)

 Tip: The fee noted 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.

Supporting Documentation

  • 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 
      • Birth Certificate: for children under 21 as proof of relationship to the H-1B
    • 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 Form I-539 Applications to IFSO

A packet should be submitted to IFSO's Front Desk with the following:

  1. Signed Form I-539: Visit www.uscis.gov/i-539 to fill out the latest version of Form I-539. Please see IFSO's I-539 guide (PDF) for guidance on how to complete the form.
  2. Check for the Form I-539 Filing Fee: A personal check made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for the filing fee in amount indicated on http://www.uscis.gov/i-539. Only one filing fee check is required for the paper I-539 application. 
  3. Signed 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. Visit www.uscis.gov/i-539 to complete the latest version of Form I-539A for each additional individual. Please see IFSO's I-539A guide (PDF) for tips for how to complete the form.
  4. Supporting Documentation: For each applicant 

IFSO Review and Submission to USCIS with H-1B Request

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

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

    • On Form I-539: Part 2, question 3a, b, and c (if requesting change of status) to ensure date matches with H-1B principal.
    • On Form I-539: Part 3, requested status end date to ensure date matches with H-1B principal.

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

Outside of the U.S. Applying for an 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 check 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)
  • 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

Alert

Due to COVID19, Family Orientation is currently on hold.

 

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