H-1B: Dependent Information

H-4 Dependent Status Overview

H-4 is the dependent status for an H-1B beneficiary's spouse or child under the age of 21.

H-4 dependents may engage in full- or part-time study. Children in H-4 status may attend public schools and spouses in H-4 status may apply for admission to Purdue as a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student.

H-4 dependents are not permitted to work in the United States. This includes volunteer or unpaid employment.

Please note that it is a violation of federal regulations for Purdue departments to permit volunteers holding F-2 and H-4 status to be working in the same departments and on similar projects as paid employees. The concept of "volunteering" connotes charity work and not productive employment.

Dependents will apply for H-4 status if they do not have an independent status themselves (i.e. J-1 or F-1). If the beneficiary is in the United States and has dependents with him/her, they should be included in the petition by filing Form I-539. If the dependents are not currently in the United States then a Form I-539 will not be necessary and they will obtain the H-4 visa at the US Consulate abroad once the beneficiary's H-1B status is approved by USCIS.

For dependents currently in the US, Form I-539 will accompany Form I-129 and must be completed by the beneficiary's dependent(s). The filing fee for this application is $290 (as of 11/23/10) and may be paid by the department or beneficiary. Only the information of the dependent(s) is entered on this form. Note that the spouse of the beneficiary should sign this form, not the beneficiary. Please be advised that if the spouse is currently in J-2 status and is working, his/her employment must be terminated from the date that the H-4 petition is approved and not the date listed on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).

Departments are advised to send a draft of the Form I-539 and all supporting dependent documents to ISS to be checked ahead of time. Incomplete and inaccurate applications will slow down processing of the H-1B/H-4 case(s).

USCIS Forms used during this step

Form I-539 (for dependents)

Instructions for preparing Form I-539

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