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Spouses and children

H-4 dependents

An H-4 dependent is defined as a spouse or unmarried, minor child of an H-1B scholar. These dependents:

  • May enter the United States along with or after the H-1B scholar, but never before.
  • May not accept employment in most cases (see exception below).
  • May be admitted to school and attend classes as a full-time or part-time student.
  • May have a long-term intent to immigrate.

Employment authorization for some H-4 spouses

Some H-4 spouses (not dependent children) are eligible to apply for work authorization if the H-1B scholar:

  • Is the primary beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 Immigration Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Has been granted an extension of H-1B status beyond the standard six-year limit based on pending employment-based permanent residence under the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Act, which permits H-1B workers seeking employment-based lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States.

Spouses who are currently in H-4 status and meet the above eligibility criteria may file Form I-765 with supporting documents. Individuals in H-4 status can start employment only when USCIS approves the application. Before submitting an application, please review the USCIS information about H-4 employment authorization, as well as these frequently asked questions.