H-4 dependent visas are issued to the spouse and children of H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visa holders, who are temporary workers in the United States. H-4 dependents are not authorized to work in the United States unless they meet certain requirements and obtain employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Starting May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status are eligible to apply for employment authorization. To be eligible, the H-1B nonimmigrant must:
- Have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- Have been granted an extension of their H-1B status beyond the six-year limit based on the fact that a PERM application or an I-140 petition has been pending for at least 365 days
H-4 dependent spouses who are not eligible for employment authorization based on the above criteria may still be able to obtain employment authorization in other situations. For example, if they have a separate basis for seeking employment authorization (such as independently qualifying for another nonimmigrant visa that allows them to work, such as an H-1B, an L-1 or an O-1 visa).
It’s important to note that obtaining employment authorization for H-4 dependents can be complex, specifically because it is tied to the heightened complexity of perm/green card applications of H-1B principal applicants.
As of the date of this writing, an H-4 dependent will not be authorized to work until USCIS approves the H-4 Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Once this application for employment authorization is approved, the expiration date of the Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766 EAD) should be the same date as the expiration date on your most recent Form I-94 indicating your H-4 nonimmigrant status. Generally, an H-4 dependent is authorized to work through the expiration date on the EAD. In the scenario where an H-4 dependent is still eligible for employment authorization after the expiration date, they should file for a renewal EAD by submitting another Form I-765 to USCIS, such renewal cannot be filed more than 180 days before your original EAD expires.
For more details, and updates check the information published on the USCIS website:
Remember that each case is different. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Read the full disclaimer here.