Spouses and minor children of H-1B holders need an H-4 visa to accompany their family member to the United States. Overseen by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, H-4 visas require documentation, photos and an interview. While the process takes effort, the ultimate reward is a trip to the United States to be with your spouse or parent. Start the process as early as possible to make certain that you have sufficient time to complete all the requirements to apply for an H-4 visa.
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Obtain or renew your passport, if necessary. USCIS requires a passport to apply for an H-4 visa. Your passport needs to be valid for at least the period of your stay in the U.S. and, in some countries, for six months past the date that the supporting H-1B visa expires.
Get a passport-sized photo taken. Your full face must be visible, your head must be uncovered and the background must be white or off-white. You also need a digital photo if you are completing your visa application online.
Complete the U.S. Visa Application Form DS-160, which can be done online. Gather all your supporting documentation prior to starting on the application. Additional information needed for the application includes the address where you will live in the U.S., contact details for any family members in the U.S. and the date of your most recent visit to the U.S., if any. Print the barcode page.
Pay your H-4 application fees, which vary by country. Contact your local U.S. consulate or embassy for current fee information. Retain your receipt.
Schedule an appointment for an interview with the U.S. consulate or embassy in your area. The consulate or embassy sends mails you a letter confirming the interview date and time. Retain this letter.
Gather all supporting documentation. Spouses must provide an original marriage certificate, close-up pictures of the wedding party and copies of the wedding invitation to document the marriage. Documents needed from the H-1B visa holder include a copy of the H-1B holder's passport, a copy of the approved petition, a copy of the employment verification letter and two pay stubs, if available. You also need the receipt for your H-4 visa fees and a copy of your appointment confirmation letter for your visa interview.
Attend the visa interview. Do not arrive late or you risk being listed as a no-show and being rescheduled. Bring all required documents to the interview. After the interview, your application for an H-4 visa is processed, and you are notified when you can pick up your papers.
Tips & Warnings
H-4 visa holders may attend school while in the United States.
H-4 visas remain valid for the same period as the supporting H-1B visa.
H-4 visa holders cannot work during their stay in the United States. However, a family member can apply for a status change that allows employment.
Never falsify or lie about anything when applying for an H-4 visa. Doing so could result in refusal of your visa and possible criminal penalties, depending on the laws of your country.Tags: United States, your visa, consulate embassy, H-1B visa, also need, family member