H-4 Status for Dependent Family Members

Once you have been granted H-1B status, your spouse and children (under 21) will normally be eligible for H-4 dependent status. Persons in the US in H-4 status cannot be employed in the US, but they are allowed to attend school.

If your dependents are outside the US, MUSC does not need to include any information about them in the petition. After the H-1B petition has been approved, your dependents may apply for H-4 visas at a US consulate. You should refer to the website of the consulate where your dependents will apply for more information on the visa application process and the documents required for an H-4 visa.

If you and your dependents are in the US, your dependents are responsible for filing for a change to H-4 status. Your dependents must complete Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status. MUSC can submit your dependent’s I-539 application along with the H-1B petition that MUSC is preparing on your behalf. You must also submit supporting documentation (copies of passports, visas, previous approval notices, DS-2019s, etc.) along with completing the I-539. You are also responsible for paying the filing fee for the I-539. Please carefully read the Form I-539 instructions provided on the USCIS website for information on how to complete form I-539 and how to correctly write a check for the filing fee. If you are completing the form on behalf of a dependent, remember that it is the dependent’s information that needs to be in the form, not yours.

Unlike H-1B approval notices, which are mailed directly to MUSC, H-4 approval notices are mailed to the dependent. Therefore, it is very important that the address that you enter in Part 1 of form I-539 is an address where you will be able to get mail for the next several months, as USCIS will use this address to mail the H-4 approval notice.

Once the I-539 has been completed, you will submit the completed form I-539 and any supporting documents to CGH to be filed with the H-1B petition. You must also provide CGH with a check for the payment of the I-539 filing fee. Checks should be written to US Department of Homeland Security (do not abbreviate). The current filing fee is $290. Please refer to the I-539 instructions for more information on paying the filing fee.