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, and submit it to USCIS with a $290 filing fee.
Dependents who wish to extend their period of authorized H-4 stay must complete Form I-539, with the required $290 filing fee and include all documentation required by USCIS. 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.
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