Your Guide to H4 Visa Processing: Time, Requirements, Cost, and Procedure


If you have a spouse in the United States with an H-1B work visa, you may apply for an H4 visa. The H4 visa processing time can be complex, but this guide will help you with your application.

What is an H4 Visa?

An H4 visa is granted to dependent family members of H1B visa holders, such as spouses or children under the age of 21.

This visa enables dependent family members to reside in the US with the H-1B visa holder.

Who are Eligible to Become an H4 Visa Holder?

The dependents of the following nonimmigrant visa categories may apply for an H4 temporary nonimmigrant visa.

  • H-1B – Workers in a specialty occupation
  • H-2A – Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers
  • H-2B – Temporary non-agricultural workers
  • H-3 – Nonimmigrant trainees besides medical or academic

The principal H-visa holder should maintain his valid immigration status in the country for the spouse or child to be granted H4 status.

Employment Authorization for H4 Visa Holders

If the holder of an H4 visa wants to work in the country, they can also apply for an employment authorization document (EAD). This document will enable them to work while holding an H4 visa.

H4 dependents are allowed to study in the US. But, they are not qualified for temporary employment related to their field of study.

H4 dependents can apply for an extension to stay with their spouse or parents. They may also switch to another nonimmigrant status.

H4 Visa Application Process

An H4 visa applicant will go through the steps listed below.

Step 1: Submit your application online.

You need to complete and submit Form DS-160 online. As you begin your visa application, the DS-160 barcode will be provided.

Save the barcode confirmation page. Most importantly, print it and carry it to your interview.

Step 2: Pay H4 visa fees.

H4 visa fees are quite the same as other H visas, which can be around $190. You must pay the fee, and don’t forget to keep the receipt because you’ll need it later in the application process.

Step 3: Set an appointment for a visa interview.

Schedule an interview with the US Embassy where you applied for the H4 visa. The earlier you schedule your interview, the earlier you will complete the entire H4 visa application.

When you schedule your interview, you will receive a letter of confirmation, which you must keep for future reference.

Step 4: Prepare to submit the required documents.

To apply for an H4 visa, submit the following documents:

  • Accomplished DS-160 application form
  • A valid passport (with one blank page)
  • Two photos for your US visa
  • Receipt confirming payment for visa fees
  • A photocopy of the primary H visa holder’s visa
  • A copy of your spouse’s or parents’ I-129 form, I-797 form, and Labor Certification Application (LCA)
  • A photocopy of your spouse’s or parents’ passport
  • Letter of employment in the United States from your spouse or parents
  • Copies of prior work experience letters from your spouse or parents
  • Recent pay stubs and tax filing information of the spouse or parents
  • Original birth certificate (for the child of an H-type visa holder)
  • Marriage certificate and other supporting documents (for the spouse of an H-type visa holder)

Step 5: Attend your visa interview appointment.

You must attend your scheduled visa interview. The interviewers will try to establish whether your connection with the H-type visa holder is legitimate during the interview.

Step 6: Get your visa stamped.

The Embassy will inform you once your H4 application has been processed. You can constantly check your visa status on the US Embassy website where you applied. You must go through the visa stamping procedures once your visa is granted.

Remember that having an H4 visa or any other type of US visa does not guarantee entry into the country. It is up to the port of entry officers and the Department of Homeland Security to determine your access to the United States.

Processing Times for H4 Visa Applicants

Processing times for H4 visas can differ depending on how occupied your local USCIS service center is.

For instance, the processing time at USCIS Vermont Service Center differs from the USCIS California Service Center. The processing of H4 visas at the latter takes longer months.

Generally, the duration of the process can range from 2 to 12 months. For many people who want to live in the US permanently, applying for this visa is still worthwhile despite possible delays.


An H4 visa can lead to numerous opportunities in the United States. You can apply for a driver’s license as soon as you arrive in the US. You can also apply for bank loans, study in different universities, and even apply for other nonimmigrant visas.

You may experience unforeseen delays, problems with the paperwork, or approvals. You can always read your receipt notice and look for updates on the USCIS website.

To avoid delays and application rejections, get an experienced immigration attorney. Schedule an appointment with Hacking Law Practice now for a hassle-free visa application!

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