H-4 Visa is required by spouses/children of H visa holders (H-1A, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or H-3) to lawfully enter into the US and stay. Parents and siblings of a H1-B visa holder cannot get an H-4 visa.
As long as the H visa of the principal applicant is valid, individual on H-4 visa also can remain in the US. However, the candidate applying for H4 visa can later apply for Green Card through the primary applicant or by changing the H-4 status to any other work based dual intent status.
People applying for H-4 Visa in most countries are required to appear for an in-person interview at the U.S consulate whereas People who are already in U.S (in status other than H-4) can convert to H-4 by filing Form I-539 for change of status.
Spouse and children of H-1B Visa holders can obtain an H-4 visa even if the primary H-1B Visa hasn’t been stamped yet. You do not need to have an H-1B visa stamp in your passport in order for your spouse to apply for an H-4 visa stamp in her passport. Evidence like wedding photographs, video, registered marriage documents, pay checks, and otherH1-B approval documents is sufficient. H4 visa holders can study in the US, can get an ITIN, can get a Driver’s License, Can do volunteer work without pay, can change to H-1B, F-1 Visa or apply for a Green Card, can get a state Identification Card, can get a bank checking account, and can travel outside of USA. However, people on H4 Visa cannot get a Social Security card for SSN and cannot work for pay.
Though H-4 Visa Holders can study full time/ part time in US universities without changing to F-1 Visa status; they cannot get funding as Teaching Assistants/Research Assistants while studying. Also, they can’t utilize CPT (Curriculum Practical Training) or OPT (Optional Practical Training) for working in companies.
There are certain advantages of Studying on H-4 Visa against F1 Visa. These include:
H4 visa holders can take fewer classes which means lesser burden because F-1 students typically have to take a full course load of 3 courses (9 credit hours) each semester.
They can be easily admitted to the Schools, since they pay their fee and don’t ask for financial assistance (Since they can’t get funding on H-4 Visa).
Duration of the study program can be flexible; you can take your own sweet time in completing your education whereas F-1 Visa students need to complete their Education within 2 or 3 years in some schools.