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Converting Your H-4 Visa

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on March 13, 2018

H-4 visa holders may consider converting to other status options to access job opportunities in the U.S and avoid getting blocked from working in the jobs they have already secured. Since many H-4 visa holders are as educated and well-qualified as their spouses, many choose to convert to the H-1B visa.

For many years, H-4 visa holders could only attend school in the United States but were not allowed to engage in any income generating activity. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s administration introduced a rule that allowed spouses of H-1B visa holders who had qualified for green cards to be eligible for employment opportunities in the country. Trump’s administration wants to do away with the rule to secure American jobs by limiting what immigrants can do. Work permits for H-4 dependents could soon disappear.

Converting H-4 Visa to H-1B

To qualify for the H-4 to H-1B visa conversion, the applicant should have a job offer from an employer such as a not for profit government research organization, institutions of higher education, or entity related to an institution of higher education, an employment offer from an H-1B cap-exempt employer, or be chosen in the H-1B lottery.

H-4 visa holders are also required to provide the following documents when applying for H-4 to H-1B conversion.

  • Form I-539, which is basically an application to change or extend the nonimmigrant status
  • Employment offer letter, letter of support, and labor condition approval
  • A stamped visa application form DS-160
  • A valid passport and all expired passports
  • Notice of Action I-797
  • Letter for visa interview appointment

The intended employer must file a separate petition (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) in support of the petition filed by the H4 dependent. The sponsoring employer will be required to submit a Form I-129, a copy of a license or official permission to practice, certificate of labor condition application, evidence of acquired degree specialized training, job title and description, and evidence showing that the job opportunity is a specialty occupation

This process is pretty much the same with first-time visa applications from outside the U.S. The only difference is with the Form I-539 required to change the nonimmigrant status.