The H-4 visa is reserved for those dependent on H-class immigrant workers. Application for an H-4 visa can be filed simultaneously with the principle H-class visa, but it requires an individual nonimmigrant application form and an appointment at an U.S. Consulate General. As a dependent visa, the H-4 visa only remains valid as long as its principle H-class visa remains valid.
Principle Visa Holders
An H-4 visa requires a "parent" or principle visa to base itself on before it can be filed. H-4 can be filed as a dependent of any H-class visa, including H-1B Specialty Occupations, H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker, H-2B Temporary Worker Skilled or Unskilled, and H-3 Trainee. The H-4 filer must be the dependent of an H-class visa holder or applicant before filing.
The spouse of the visa holder and unmarried children under the age of 21 qualify for H-4 visas. Parents, siblings and other family members of the visa holder cannot apply for an H-4 visa.
When the I-129 Petition for Alien Worker is filed for the principle H-class visa holder, the names and information of all dependents must be included on the form (pages 33 through 35). The sponsoring employer is responsible for filing the form on behalf of the petitioned worker and his/her dependents. Once the petition is approved, the principle H-class visa applicant will receive I-797 Notice of Approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. After I-797 is received, application for any H-4 visas can be made through an U.S. Consulate General.
All H-4 applicants are required to complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160, before attending the visa application appointment. DS-160 must be submitted electronically at the website of the U.S. Department of State. After completing the application, you must print the confirmation receipt page that contains a barcode. You then present this receipt page at the consulate to gain entry. A separate DS-160 must be submitted for each H-4 applicant.
Each applicant must submit one passport-style photograph, 2 x 2 inches in size. The photo should be set against a white background, with the subject looking straight at the camera. The face must be completely clear of any obstructions including hats, sunglasses or scarfs. Prescription eye glasses may be worn, as well as religious head scarfs, as long as they do not obstruct the face in any way.
A valid passport is required for each H-4 applicant and must be presented at the interview. The passport needs to have a remaining validity that extends or exceeds the intended stay in the United States.
An H-4 applicant filing as a dependent spouse must present a copy of the marriage certificate. Applicants filing as dependent children must present copies of their birth certificates.
All H-4 applicants are required to schedule an appointment online at the website of the U.S. Consulate General or the Embassy that holds jurisdiction over the applicant's region of residence. Walk-in applications are not acceptable at any U.S. Consulate.