H4 Visa FAQ: Most Commonly Asked Questions Answered

h4 visa


The H4 visa is the dependent visa that attaches to the H1B visa. H1Bs are the most common nonimmigrant work visa available to professionals.


All types of US corporations and organizations use H1B visas, regardless of industry or job duties. As a result, foreign nationals from all over the world bring along their families under the H4 visa.


In my practice, I have had H1B families pose similar questions about the nuances of the H4. I wanted to collect these most “commonly asked questions” and compile the answers for you.


In this guide, I will explain almost everything you need to know about the H4 visa. If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.




1. What is an H4 Visa?


  • Privileges of the H4 Visa: Dual Intent


  • Single Intent Visa Burden


2. How Long Can I be in H4 Status For?


3. H4 Change of Status and Extensions


  • How to file an H4 Extension or Change of Status


  • If I am in a different status, such as an F-1, L-1, can I change to an H4?


  • Rule: How USCIS Will Determine if a Change of Status is Needed or Permitted


  • Are You Eligible to Change Status in the United States?


4. H4 Visas: Traveling into the United States in H4 Status from Abroad


  • Difference between Visa and Status


5. Conclusion


1. What is the H4 Visa?


The H4 visa is for immediate family members of H1B visa holders. H4 visa holders can enter the United States with their specialty occupation spouse or parent. To get an H4 visa, you need to either:


(1) apply for a change of status inside the United States (with USCIS) or


(2) through the Department of State (US consulate abroad).


Privileges of the H4 Visa: Dual Intent


The INA grants H4 nonimmigrants the privilege of a ‘‘dual intent” visa. This means that H4 holders can be the beneficiary of an I-140 (immigrant petition) filed under section 204 of the INA. Meaning, they can seek and apply for legal permanent residency. This is not true for “single intent visas” (such as the B-1/B-2, popularly known as a “tourist visa” or an F-1 “student visa”).


Single Intent Visa Burdens


With single intent visas, the applicant must show the consulate he/she has no intent to abandon his/her foreign residence. Again, this is not true for purposes of obtaining or maintaining H– 1B status. See INA 214(h); see also 8 CFR 214.2(h)(16), 9 FAM 402.10.


2. How long can I be in H4 status for?


H4 visa holders can keep their status as long as the principal (the H1B visa holder). Thus, because H1Bs have a six-year limit, H4s are held to the same amount. Fortunately, Congress created extra privileges for H1B and H4 visa holders with approved I-140s. H1B visa holders, who are the beneficiaries of certain pending or approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions or labor certification (PERM) applications, can stay inside the US beyond the six-year period of stay. This promotes H1B holder’s ability to immigrate to the United States.


Congress has not extended these benefits to other H nonimmigrants. Such as the H–1B1 (Free Trade Agreement: Chile and Singapore), H–2A (temp. agricultural workers), H–2B (temporary nonagricultural work).


3. H4 Change of Status and Extensions


If your spouse obtains an H1B visa number, remember that the H1B extension or change of status, does not automatically apply to you. To get H4 status, you must file your own application as a dependent. Here, you submit proof of the principal H1B holder's valid status and evidence of your family relationship. Note that you can also file your extension or change of status application at the along with the principle H1B application.


How to file an H4 Extension or Change of Status


When the principal H1B holder files an extension or change of status, the employer will submit a form I-129. The H1B holder’s dependents are not included in this I-129 petition.


As a dependent you will need to submit your own affirmative application with form I-539. This form allows you to “extend or change status.” Here, you will extend your status if you are already in H4 status and you need an extension. You will change status if you are in a different status, other than H4, at the time of submitting your I-539. Fortunately, you can use the same form (I-539) to either a change or extend of status.


The first dependent will submit an I-539 and any additional dependents must submit an I-539A. For example, the dependent spouse will fill out the I-539 and each of the two children will do an I-539A. Each applicant will also need to submit a check for the filing and biometric fee. Please check USCIS' website for their current fees as these are regularly updated. Note that you can submit the I-539 jointly with the I-129.


Can I change to an H4 If I am in a different status, such as an F1 or L1?


Generally, you can move from a different visa status to an H4 visa inside the United States. You need not leave the US to put this change into effect. Keep in mind that there are some limitations to this rule. You should speak with our office assure you are eligible to change status. For example, if you have a home residency requirement on your visa (these are often attached to J-1s), you may not be eligible to change status inside the United States.


Keep in mind that if you are inside the United States, whatever your status is, you must engage in activities that are consistent with that status. So, if you come in as an F-1 student you must maintain full-time academic studies. Alternatively, if you arrive with H1B status, then you must maintain employment with your H1B petitioner. Here, this employment must meet the terms outlined in the Labor Certificate Application (LCA) and I-129 application. If you switch to an H4, you must follow the rules of that visa status. The terms of an H4 include restrictions on employment without valid authorization.


Rule: How USCIS Will Determine if a Change of Status is Needed or Permitted


For the most part, USCIS will judge the primary purpose of your stay by how you spend the majority of your time.


Thus, if you are no longer pursuing L-1 or F-1 activities, you will need to file a change of status. If you choose to change status to an H4, make sure your activities are consistent with that status.


Here, you’d have two options:


(1) leave the US and apply for readmission in your new visa H4 classification. If necessary, apply for the appropriate visa. You will need to get the necessary stamping at an American consulate abroad; or


(2) apply for a change of status (COS) while you are inside the US, (note, not everyone is eligible for COS). Keep in mind changing status does not give you a visa stamp in your passport under this category. It only changes your status.


Are You Eligible to Change Status in the United States?


To determine whether you are eligible to change status - consider the following factors:

(1) your COS application’s timing;

(2) whether you’ve been maintaining valid status;

(3) whether your current status permits a change of status; and

(4) analyze the status you wish to change to.

Any of these four factors may render you ineligible to apply for a change of status. Alternatively, it may make it inadvisable to apply for one. Thus, it is important you do a careful analysis and consider all the facts surrounding your case.


4. H4 Visas: Traveling into the United States in H4 Status from Abroad


To enter the United States on an H4, you will need to fill out a DS-160. You must then pay your visa fee and schedule a visa stamping appointment at your nearby US Consulate. Once you have a valid visa you can freely travel in and out of the US in H4 Status. Even if your H4 is about to expire, you can enter the United States and remain for the duration of the I-797 approval of the H1B principal. Remember, there is a distinct difference between a visa and status.


Difference between Visa and Status




All nonimmigrants must have a visa. Visas are issue by the Dept. of State and international consulates. A visa allows you to apply for admission to the United States. Visas give you permission to approach the border. At the border, you can then ask the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for admission.


In some situations, an expired visa stamp may also be revalidated by CBP at an America border. Keep in mind, CBP does not issue visas. Again, this is only attainable at the consulate abroad.


Most foreign nationals seeking admission to the US, as nonimmigrants, need a visa. There are some exceptions. For example, some travelers may enter on what was known as the ‘visa waiver program’ (ESTA). Others, such as Canadian nationals, are predominantly visa exempt.




“Status” and the word “visa” are often conflated. Status is designated by CBP and the Form I-94. Form I-94 sets the terms and conditions of your presence in America.


Thus, even though your visa may expire, you could be granted status that extends the duration of your visa.


6. Conclusion


Remember, the H4 visa does not need to be a complicated process. The process may seem daunting at first. Yet, I am happy to break down legal complexities to work with you and your family. If you have any questions or need help evaluating your case, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.

Share this post...

Ashoori Law
Based on 618 reviews
saeid zamani
I had an appointment with Mr Mehri, he answered all of my questions patiently and professionally. I am fully satisfied with their service and strongly recommend them.
Pawan Sutrala
Excellent unit at Ashoori Law to help us through what ended up as not a very straightforward E2 visa process. My wife was the main E2 applicant of a new franchised based business in a CPOM state. CPOM (Corporate Practice of Medicine), for the... uninitiated, is a doctrine that establishes stringent rules and structural guardrails on businesses and business owners of medical and related practices. Not all states in the US have these requirements. Ashoori team and Shruti Bali, in particular, was excellent and, more so, patient in dealing with us and our concerns, fears and expectations. Quite a few times, we found ourselves in a panic with our situation - we had made the requisite financial and personal commitments (for instance, sold our holdings in Canada, paid the substantial franchise fees). However, Michael personally got involved and Shruti was phenomenal in calming our nerves and prepping us through the process. The guidance around our options were clear and ambiguities very few. The preparation for the interview was immaculate - we were over-prepared and breezed through that. Thank you Michael, Shruti and the rest of the fantastic Ashoori team. Worth every penny!read more
Hannah Mansour
Ashoori Law provided an exceptional service from start to finish for my approved E2 visa application. Their expert knowledge and management of every aspect of the application meant that the process was smooth and efficient. Everyone involved was... friendly, professional and went the extra mile to make sure that the application was flawless. I would recommend them 1000 times over. Thank you Ashoori Law!read more
Peppe Öhman
Me and my husband immediately knew Ashoori Law was the law firm we wanted to help us with our green card application. The approach of this firm is friendly and professional. All our inquiries were answered rapidly and we felt very secure in out... journey to permanent residency. I warmly recommend Ashoori Law.read more
Amir Asgari
A Life Changing Law FirmI would like to thank the team of Ashoori Law who took care of my application for EB5 .Very efficient and professional.
Eric Georgeson
Great team, good system, always responding to the emails on time and following up without me asking.Highly recommending.
Matthew Habib
The law firm of Michael Ashoori was a great & pleasant experience, they are professionalsI 100% recommend them for all your immigration needsThank you ashoori law firm
meelad almasak
Ashoori Law has been helpful throughout my immigration process! Everyone on the team, attorney's, paralegals, legal assistants and the billing team are phenomenal. They are professional that take time to answer your questions, and make you feel at... ease. Lorianne and her team have made my application easy and smooth. I would highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone!read more
Jamie Faus
Ashoori Law was attentive to our questions through the process of obtaining a marriage based green card. They walked us through the process, saved us countless hours worth of paperwork, and set clear expectations. Ultimately, Ashoori helped us... secure the marriage based green card in the period of time they had initially quoted. We would recommend Ashoori to those looking to option a marriage based green card.read more
Ramandeep Singh
We have known Michael for almost 4 years now. Very knowledgeable and top most professional in his field. We hired Michael for E2 visa and he got us approval every single time even for the renewals. Michael truly believes in helping the clients all... across the world through his videos and I definitely recommend him to anyone looking for immigration advice. Best of the best !!!read more
Mayra Contreras
We have had a great experience with Ashoori Law. All of the staff are very responsive. I am a many questions person and they had answers to everything. Our case was processed quickly and efficiently. We will continue to use them and recommend them... to family and friends.read more
Joti Puri
I am so glad I used this firm for my US related immigration work. They were very friendly and pleasant to engage with and answered all my questions in a timely manner throughout the entire process. They were also cheaper in comparison to another... firm who I had been recommended to by a friend. The information they provided was accurate and made sure my application was never jeopardized ensuring I was up to date and acting in compliance with the law.read more
mohammad javadipour
I have got my Case approval only within 10 months!I think it was one of my best decision to choose The Ashoori Law, which they have helped me a lot through the whole process, and if had not be the preciseness and accuracy which they have shown... through the whole process, the result would be still in dark for me.They are extremely experienced which I think that what makes them a wining card!read more
Rohit Sirinivasa at Ashoori Law provided some very valuable advice for my H1B NOID issued by USCIS. He is proficient and very prompt with his communication.
Hitesh Mahay
I had a great experience with Ashoori Law Firm. Ashoori Law is a professional law firm with a great team. They helped me getting my I-140 approval. Everyone was responsive and helpful in guiding me through the process. I highly recommend them for... all your immigration needs.read more
Roman G
We applied for E2 visa and were approved. Our experience was very positive, they reviewed our documents and prepared the packet very fast and were attentive to all our questions. I would definitely recommend them. Also they didn't charge any hidden... fees, were upfront with all the expenses.read more
Yousuf Dadi
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help with my cases. It had been an exciting journey since 2018 when we first started working with Ashoori law Office on my E visas .I am grateful to you and to all your colleagues... who assisted in the whole process. Thank you so much! I appreciate all of your help and guidance Attorney Fredrick has also been great, and I appreciate all the hard work that he has put into my case EB5 as well. This was a long process but definitely worth it!read more
Fauzia Usman
Thankyou so much Michael Ashoori and your Immigration Attorney Shruti Bali and all team member to help me process me and my family case of E2 Investor Visa. It took Approx. 10 months from Ontario Canada. I Never visit IN person to this Firm,... everything deal and process online. Ashoori Law serve Great Professional Service. Highly recommend.read more
Berna Antelo
I really recommend the Ashoori Law team, they are wonderful and always ready to help you in all the different steps and process. My best experience.
Anita Valasek
Ashoori Law has made my husband’s American dream became reality exactly in 5 months time. I found Ashoori Law on Tiktok. I liked how informative Michael’s videos were so I knew his law firm would be the one for us. From the moment we approached them... till the unbelievable last email that informed us that my husband’s green card arrived at their firm, has been a very smooth ride. Very responsive to any questions we had, they worked as efficiently as we did on our paperwork. We highly recommend Ashoori Law with all your immigration needs. We are very thankful for their expertise.read more
Adam Weston
We finally received my wife’s green card thanks to Ashoori Law. They made everything very easy which is key. Highly recommend.
zaheer aulakh
My experience with Ashoori law is excellent.I applied for E2 through them and I got the approval.Throughout the whole process Ashoori team and specially my attorney has been very supportive and guiding.I really recommend Ashoori Law.
Karim El-Gamal
I’ve worked with Ashoori on several issues regarding E2s and EB5s and some other unique issues. They have delivered on my needs every time with support from their team and networks. I’ve worked with other law firms prior and no one could handle... these unique complex requirements like Ashoori.read more
Malwa Truckline
We express our heartfelt gratitude to Michael and the entire team at Ashoori Law Firm for their exceptional handling of our case. Their professional expertise and dedicated efforts made the entire process remarkably smooth and easy for us. We... enthusiastically recommend Ashoori Law Firm to anyone seeking top-notch legal services. It was truly a pleasure doing business with them, and we are thoroughly satisfied with the outstanding quality of their work.read more
Gunveen Bachher
Highly recommended. The staff is professional and they do whatever it takes to get the job done. Thank you so much for everything.
Highly professional, supportive, patient and timely response with our ongoing immigrant visa process. I highly recommend this firm!
I wish to express my sincere thanks for all the work and effort you, your team and especially Lorainne put into my case. Lorainne is a senior experienced attorney with detailed knowledge all intricacies and rules and regulations of L1, she guided... and handheld me through the whole process beautifully.L1 is not an easy process, but you guys made it absolutely seamless for me, without putting any undue financial burdens.Your team also did a wonderful job with writing the business plan. All work and pricing was transparent. Support and responsiveness was on point. The process was made easy and seamless in every way.May God Bless You and bestow upon you more Success, Peace and Happiness in everything you all do. Amen!read more
Andres Riera
Ashoori Law came highly recommended and did not disappoint. My whole immigration process was smooth from beginning to end. They answered any questions at any time and always kept me updated. If needed to, I would not hesitate to consult with them... againread more
I booked a consultation on the web site. There were 2 text reminders before, which is really great! I talked to Juan Robles. He answered all my questions, cleared all the doubts. I'm very greatfull to him! Strongly Recommended!
Kay F
Green card approved! 🎈 🎈 🎈Would like to say a sincere thank you to Ashoori Law firm and team for the tremendous job they did. My husband and I attended our green card interview November of 2022. Our case kept pending until... June of 2023. We were rescheduled for another interview in September 2023. Michael and team still kept contact and kept us updated throughout the waiting period. An Attorney was availed to us just to help out with the preparations. Even after having waited for almost a year, Ashoori law did not ask us to pay any extra attorney fees. My green card was approved a few hours after the interviews. We are sincerely grateful for the guidance and help rendered throughout this process. If we had to retain an attorney again for this process, we would definitely hire you a thousand times more.read more
Carlos Iglesias
I found out about Ashoori Law because I was looking for a law office on the internet. I was skeptical at first since I was living in Miami, and they are located in California. I looked for more information about them and despite having found it, I... preferred to look for something local. I found a local office in Miami and went in person for an interview. After paying for the first consultation and before starting to collect the necessary documents, they stopped answering my calls and communicating with the lawyer was very difficult. Due to that bad experience I decided to give Ashoori Law a chance and I am happy I did. The first consultation was free and starting the process was very simple, they have a platform where you can upload the documents and monitor what is needed. My wife was out of the country, and it was very helpful to have the facility to upload the documents. Jesser was always ready to help me with my questions and no more than 24 hours went by without receiving a response from them, even the payments were easy to make, the accounting department they have is very effective, they made sure I received my receipts on time, and they even helped me with the best payment method available. I am very satisfied with them, and I definitely recommend this office. If you want to know more about them, you will eventually see that their offices and they are legit. I even receive videos and updates every week with important information on the latest developments in immigration laws. My wife and I are happy to have chosen them.read more
Arsineh Hebert
Ashoori Law has exceeded our expectations. They are extremely professional, courteous, support a quick turn around, and communicate regularly and clearly. I highly recommend them!
Arsineh Hebert
We had an excellent experience with Ashoori Law. Extremely progressional and worked quickly to get us a successful outcome!
mohammed khaled
The Ashoori firm is one of the best law firms I have dealt with. They are so quick, professional, and responsive.I got my case approved in a few weeks
Mariana Sanchez
I had a great experience working with the Ashoori Law team. Everybody was responsive and helpful in guiding me through the immigration process. They answer all of your questions and really make it easy for you to work out immigration stuff. Do your... part (turn in the requested documents on time) and then rest is taken care of by the Ashoori Law team. True peace of mind.read more
Alec Strickland
Ashoori was a great help with our green card process. They filed all of our paperwork, were available the entire time to answer any questions (we had many), and provided personal counseling for the final interview
Jamal Albardwil
I was delighted with my experience. Mr. Ehsan Ashoori Was a professional, and free consultation meant free and informative. And he educated me on what to expect and do, the likely outcomes, and how to achieve it. I would highly highly recommend this... immigration law firm to anyone needing an immigration law firm.I wish I could give them 6 stars.100% professionals.read more
Sanjeev Bhalla
Ashoori Law is a professional law firm with a great team. We had applied for my daughter's change of status visa and they handled it pretty well and we got the status change without any difficulty. I would strongly recommend them to anyone who... wishes to engage a immigration law firm. They will do a great job as was in our case. I'd like to thank Michael and Sergio as well their entire team for the fantastic work work they did for us.read more
Graem Beddoes
Very grateful for the help and guidance in getting our E2
Carolina Marmolejo
Very proffessional law firm. My husband & I appreciated their attentive, meticulous and detailed work on our case. They always stayed communicated and responsive to us from beginning to end.
Kaveeta Ramnarine
Totally grateful to the Ashoori team for their excellent service. They are very responsive and knowledgeable, they go above and beyond for their clients.Special thank you to Attorneys Rebecca McCarthy and Ehsan Mehri for their continued support in... our process.read more
Shyam Chandrasekharan
I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks for your exceptional guidance and expertise in securing my visa extension approval. Your professionalism, attention to detail, and dedication were instrumental in achieving this success. Your support and clear... communication throughout the process were invaluable. I'm deeply grateful for your outstanding work.read more
Malia Hi’ilani
Ashoori Law is a very knowledgeable and thorough law firm, with a great team. They gave me confidence in my business plan by providing a free discovery call to see if it was worth pursuing. Very personable and available for all of my questions or... concerns throughout the process. I was granted my E2 change of status successfully. I would highly recommend them for all of your immigration needs.read more
Israt Jahan
AshooriLaw is a great choice for our case.they response fast and very helpful.
Beth Jinks
Ashoori Law again handled my green card travel document renewal application professionally, and they accurately predicted the processing time. I've tackled similar paperwork alone before, but have now been working with Ashoori for about five years... because they provide peace of mind that everything is handled correctly. Highly recommend.read more
Next Reviews
Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.