Dependents of H-1B Visa Holders are Permitted to Enter and Remain in the United States

By Jessabelle M. Koppelman

The H-1B visa registration period is open and ready for entries to the H1b lottery! The online account creation process began on February 21st for Fiscal Year 2023. This temporary employment program allows foreign nationals to join the U.S. workforce in a variety of fields. Past H-1B visa holders have had the opportunity to work at some of the top companies in the U.S., such as Ernst & Young, Facebook, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and more. Another benefit of the H-1B visa program is that an H-1B worker can bring their family with them to the United States. USCIS allows the visa holder’s spouse and children to enter and stay in the U.S.

Specifically, approved H-1B beneficiaries can request that their spouses and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one (21) obtain H-4 status. H-4 status allows these dependent family members to stay with the H-1B visa worker in the U.S. Below are some important things to note about H-4 status.

  • Employment for H-4 Dependents: Generally, spouses of H-1B visa holders are not authorized
    to work in the U.S. However, there are two (2) instances where the dependent may apply for
    employment authorization through Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. H-4
    dependent spouses may be permitted to work in the U.S. if the H-1B visa holder:
    • Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Immigration Petition for Alien Worker (Form
      I-140); or
    • Was 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).” This means that the H-1B worker has been granted an extension of stay beyond the six (6) year period because their employer has filed Form I-140 or permanent labor certification if a year has passed since the filing.

      Please note that the H-4 dependent spouse is not authorized to start work until USCIS approves Form I-765.
  • Duration of Stay: H-4 status relies on the H-1B visa holder’s standing. Thus, H-4 status terminates when the worker’s H-1B status terminates. H-1B visas are valid for up to three (3) years and may be extended for an additional three (3) years. Six (6) years in the maximum duration period for an H-1B visa holder.

    With the H-1B visa, foreign nationals do not have to choose between working in the U.S. and being with their families. H-1B season is here and moving quickly. To learn more about important dates and steps, click here.

    It is best to consult a professional to help you navigate the H-1B visa process. Oliver-Zhang Law is here to help you every step of the way. Our immigration lawyers will work hard to help you secure an H-1B visa and are available to assist you with your other immigration needs. Call us today at (202) 643-1110 or email us at [email protected] for a free immigration consultation. We service employers and individuals in the Virginia, Maryland, District of
    Columbia, and Washington state areas, as well as nationwide.