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Employment Authorization for Dependent Spouses with H-4 Visas

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) gives H-4 status to an H-1B visa holder’s spouse and dependent children. An H-4 visa allows a spouse and children to live and attend school in the U.S., but it does not permit a spouse to work.

Some H-4 spouses may be eligible to get a work permit, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Eligibility Requirements

To apply for a work permit, H-4 visa holders must show his/her spouse has either:

  • An approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or
  • Permission to remain in the U.S. with an H-1B nonimmigrant status beyond the six-year limit.

Application Process

To apply for a work permit, an H-4 spouse must:

  • Show H-4 status.
  • • Provide a government-issued photo identification.
  • • Show her/his H-4 dependent relationship to the H-1B nonimmigrant.
  • Submit photographs of the H-4 dependent for card production.

What Happens Next?

USCIS will notify you in writing of its decision. Once USCIS approves your EAD, you may start working in the U.S.


$410 filing fee for Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)

Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)

About 3 months

You intend to live permanently in the U.S.

An H-4 visa holder whose spouse is a permanent resident in the U.S. or has an H-1B status beyond six years.

One or two years, at the discretion of USCIS.


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