Spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of H-1B employees are assigned an H-4 classification. An H-4 dependent’s status in the U.S. is valid as long as the H-1B’s status is valid. H-4 dependents are prohibited from working but are allowed to engage in full-time or part-time study.
Dependents who are outside of the U.S. can accompany an H-1B worker and be admitted to the U.S. in H-4 status or can be admitted later after the H-1B worker has arrived. Dependents already in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status who wish to change to H-4 status must complete Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
When an extension of stay is filed on behalf of an H-1B employee, the OIS will also file Form I-539 on the dependent’s behalf and request the same expiration date for both parties.