Working in the United States (US) is a great opportunity for anyone, especially if the employer is ready to petition you for a temporary work visa. It makes the process much easier. You may also be pleased to know you can take your family with you.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows you to bring your spouse and dependent children to the country if you have a work visa. An H-4 visa is the most common visa dependents can apply for, but it will still rely on your employment visa.
When can your family apply for an H-4 visa?
Your family can only begin their H-4 visa application once the USCIS approves your visa. The visa you obtained must be one of the following visas:
- H-1B Professionals and other individuals in specialty occupations: A specialty occupation would entail a bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement to enter that specific field. These include your engineers, architects, lawyers, accountants, mathematician and scientists. However, the H-1B visa also includes Free Trade Agreement workers from Chile and Singapore, distinguished fashion models and specialty occupations administered by the Department of Defense.
- H-1C Registered nurses in a shortage: As a registered nurse with the appropriate nursing license, you can apply for this visa through a hospital employer. The Department of Labor (DOL) determines if there is a health professional shortage in an area where the petitioning hospitals are. Applying for this temporary visa is a long process because it involves coordination between DOL and USCIS.
- H-2A Seasonal agricultural workers: Foreign nationals cannot petition themselves for this type of visa. You would already need a job offer in the agricultural field with any US employer.
- H-2B Seasonal non-agricultural workers: When companies are in peak season or expanding, they look to hire an employee who can get the job done with no professional or specialty occupation requirements. A US business owner can hire from outside the country if they sponsor the foreign national.
- H-3 Training and education visa: You are qualified for this visa if the company you work for wants to invest in your skills with training or programs unavailable in your country. The training or educational programs must not be academic or medical. This visa also applies to people who want to get training and experience in educating children with special needs.
Family members with H-4 visas cannot work in the US. Your spouse can only accompany you unless they also qualify for a temporary working visa. Children with H-4 status, however, can attend school.
Requirements to qualify for an H-4 visa
Once you get approval for any of the visas above, you must send a copy of the notice along with proof of your spousal and parent-child relationship. Just like you, they will also need to submit to a background check and medical examination and provide proper documentation.
The entire process is cumbersome but having your family with you throughout your journey will make all the hardships worthwhile.