H4 Visa – What are the options?

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Shreya Patil , 28, a former software engineer from India spends her day looking for online recipes and watching food network.

Adithi Rao , 27, a former business analyst from Hyderabad keeps herself busy with gardening and yoga.

Kavitha Ranganathan, 26, a master’s degree holder from IIT Chennai, is taking swimming and dancing classes to kill her time.

What do they all have in common?

They all got married to H-1B visa holders. They all want to work but couldn’t work due to the H4 visa restrictions.

Most of the H4 visa holders are on par with their spouses in terms of educational qualifications. Unfortunately, they cannot contribute financially to the household income.

H-4 work authorization issue is one of the top issues faced by the immigrants over years. It makes no sense why H4 visa holders can`t work while L2 visa holders can!!! If you are one among those people who supports H4 work authorization in USA, Please sign this petition initiated by Shah peerally law group.

http://www.change.org/petitions/give-more-rights-to-h4-visa-holders

Although work authorization for an H4 visa is not going to happen any time soon, H1B wiki suggests the following options for an H4 visa holder while they are in USA.

Option 1: Go to School

The best option for an H4 visa holder is to pursue higher studies. An H-4 holder however cannot work after school. So, once an H-4 holder joins school, he/she should apply for change of status to F1 visa and then could get all the benefits of working on OPT and converting to an H-1B later.

Option 2: Find a job which sponsors H-1B

You can try to find a job so that you could change your status from H-4 to H-1B. Finding the right employer is very important in this scenario.

  • You could apply for a full-time job and have your employer sponsor you the H-1B visa.
  • You could find a consultancy, get necessary training required and apply for job through the consultant. The consultant could then apply for H-1B.
  • Try to search for H-1B cap-exempt organizations and apply for jobs in those organizations. H-1B can be applied in these organizations any time round the year and there is no cap holding. So, it would be easier to get an H-1B in this scenario. 

Option 3: Work on creative projects/blogs (Only for green card aspirants)

You could work on some projects like creating web applications; write a book; plan a business; post cook recipes, etc. Once you receive your green card, you could monetize your work and earn income out of it.

Ex: You can write a book while on H4 visa and publish it and earn income after you get your green card.

Option 4: Passive Investment

This is a very grey area and I strictly advice you to consult an immigration lawyer before you consider this option. You can invest in a business and be a passive investor in an LLC/Inc. You are not supposed to work and receive any salary or monetary benefits for your work. You can receive dividends from the company.

Option 5:  Volunteer

Volunteering is working without being paid. Few organizations do consider taking H-4 candidates for volunteering jobs. Find some good organizations in your industry where you can volunteer. If the organization or company likes your work, they will be more than happy to sponsor a H-1B for you.

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  • Ramya

    Great info!! good work!! few more likes to 1000 in fb!

  • Preeep Nayak

    My wife was in H1 status till Mar 2011. She changed her status from H1 to H4 in Mar’11 in US and got her new I797 with a I94 valid till Nov 2012. This validity period was based on my H1 validity back in Mar’11 when she transferred from H1 to H4.

    Now earlier this year, my company extended my H1 which extended my validity till Oct 2014. However, my company forgot to apply for my wife’s extension. She is still in status as her I797 I94 has not expired and she has gone to india in July 2012

    Now she is in india going for H4 stamping with her I797 valid only till Nov’12 and my I797 valid till Oct2014.

    1. Will there be any issues in stamping?
    2. Will she get stamp until Oct’14 based on my validity or will it be based on my wife’s I797 i.e. Nov 2012.

    Also when she goes to the consulate does she need to submit only my I797 or does she need to submit both her I797 and mine.

    Anyone in a similar situation or similar experience please share your thoughts.

    • Anula Chowdhury

      hi Preeep ,I hope your wife got her h4 visa extended at her stamping interview in the US consulate in India & hope your both living happily here in US, I am in h4 visa & I understand the implications of trying to keep up with these visa norms. Please share what the outcome of her h4 extension was.

    • Raj

      Nothing to worry Pradeep, she will get Visa.

    • Jigar Shah

      I believe H4 visa stamp totally relies on H1B validity and based on that, she should receive it without any hassle.

    • Swar

      What do you think of this: https://www.facebook.com/h4skilltrade?ref=hl
      It’s a platform where we can exchange our skills and connect with other women on H4 Visa Status!

  • Parry

    Thought of sharing my story too: I am an MBA, MCom with 10 years experience at senior management position across multi-million and MNCs that are headquartered in the US.
    -Doesn’t make sense for me to join school by giving GRE/GMAT & TOEFL.
    -My company in India assured to transfer me to US which couldn’t happen since the US counterparts do not sponsor visas.
    -The city I stay in has zero opportunities for employment or volunteer in my area of expertise. Moreover most organizations are reluctant to keep H4s as volunteers (this is also a grey area).
    Best is, go back to your home town and start a life there. No point waiting here for an endless time.

    • Sue

      Seriously, don’t waste your time and just go back to India.

  • http://twitter.com/jigarshah2811 Jigar Shah

    I am a 7 Yrs experienced Systems Software Engineer holding B.E in Computer Science on H4 since my wife wanted to explore US opportunity. I agree due to american unemployment ratio, I am in the pool of competing with Skills of American and people from Globe. No Issues. I agree Govt. arguments that H4 holder took decision to accompany family and can not given permission to work. I agree if I would be in one of the brilliant pool of skilled people, I can convert in H1B!

    But what will you say about this.
    I am Offered by Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco as soon as I started interviews landingin US…!!! I have accepted one of them and they sponsored my H1B this year.

    Now there is a man in US acquired all skills to be able to work !

    There are employers in US who would like to hire the man for job !

    US govt wants to give H1B to highly skilled people from globe to shape future of US.

    Still no one is happy because between me and my fate there is a ‘lottery’ !!!!

    STILL, I am in the race with thousands of people whose visa being filed by Indian consultancies ! Like Infy, Wipro, TCS ! Just because most of those were employees with organizations since past years. Funny, most of my friends already have H1B’s available from those consultancy waiting to arrive in US. So those companies just reserving H1Bs for future !

    Please forward this message to immigration dept USCIS.

    • Raj

      Technically speaking whatever INDIAN MNC’s are doing is not wrong, most of the MNC’s also doing the samething. It is all about demand and future forecast :) but i strongly recommend H1B visa for MS Graduates because they have invested a lot on MS . New immigration is bill appropriate solution for H1B Visa misuse,now most of the companies(consulting companies) misusing it :)

    • Ankur

      And what would you want the USCIS to do about it? I suggest you stop ranting about stupid things and hope for the best for yourself.

      • Jigar Shah

        They understood loophole…. Fixed it this year by increasing number and wages so infy, TCS and other Indian consultancies can not misuse h1b for labor body shopping work……

    • Kavitha

      Hi Jigar Shah,
      I am Kavitha. I just came to Boston before three weeks. My Husband will join me on Feb month. He will come in H4 visa. We are searching for some consultancy or employer who can file H1 for him. I saw in your post that you have got H1 after coming here. So I thought you are the right person to help us. He worked on Automation/Manual testing and Data warehousing. Could you please suggest me how to find employers here? Your response is highly appreciated.

      • Jigar Shah

        Please send me his resume…. Also what I did is keep applying in Jan to giants as they don’t hasitate to sponsor h1b and wait till Oct for skilled candidate…..

        • siri

          hi sir i am on h4 visa,pharma graduate can u help me any way by providing consultancy address who transfer h4 to h1 visa for pharma people

          • Jigar Shah

            Please understand there is NO consultancy transfers H4 to h1b….. You have to apply for jobs in US organizations and if skillful enough, and they are willing to sponsor and willing to hold job position for you to next Oct…… Then you get H1b….. Its the most sophisticated, legal and hardest path to get h1….. We r not discussing short cuts here…

          • Prerna

            Hello Jigar,
            I am currently on H4, have 4 yrs of work ex in Oracle pl/sql. I have applied in many companies here, but they all respond that they don’t provide sponsorship. As you mentioned that you also applied in many companies, when did u inform about your visa status to them? Did you tell them initially itself or after clearing the interviews?

            Thanks,
            Prerna

          • Jigar Shah

            Initially. Feb-March is the best time to apply for jobs that will sponsor H1B. Since they would have to hold position for the ‘least’ time (even though they still have to wait till Oct) if they hire a new candidate and apply fresh H1B in April. There will be very rare employers who does that and you should not loose hope!

          • pramod

            Hi Jigar,
            Share your email ID, please

          • Jigar Shah
        • Kiran

          please share your email ID my Wife is on H4 and she is looking for some visa conversion sponsers.

          • Jigar Shah

            Find me in LinkedIn … Jigarshah2811

          • Kiran

            Sorry Jigar I am not able to find Jigarshah2811 in linkedin, could you please send me your full mail ID so that I can search. thanks

        • San

          Can you please let me know the consultancy which transfers h4 to h1b.
          Sandhya.k14feb@gmail.com

          Thanks in advance!

          • Jigar Shah

            Do I know any? Have you read post?

      • Jigar Shah

        Initially. Feb-March is the best time to apply for jobs that will sponsor H1B. Since they would have to hold position for the ‘least’ time (even though they still have to wait till Oct) if they hire a new candidate and apply fresh H1B in April. There will be very rare employers who does that and you should not loose hope!

    • seema sahu

      Hello Jigar,
      I am seema. I came to US last dec 2013 in H4. I saw in your post
      that you have got H1 after coming here .I have 4 years of experience in web technology. Could you please suggest me how to find employers here?
      Your response is highly appreciated,

      • Jigar Shah

        Dice, H1BVisaJobs and especially all big companies that considers skills over sponsorship. Apply directly to recruiter using group of friends.

    • Vishal Salman

      Hi Jigar, I am in similar kind of situation. I have 5 + years of experience in networking + project management for telecom companies ( PMP Practices ). I am working in India and recently got H4 as my wife moved to SA Texas. How to explore jobs and consultancy which might help me find a job, I am in a desperate situation as I want to accompany my wife their. Please suggest..

      • Jigar Shah

        you can see comments below

        • Vishal Salman

          Jigar, could you help me with some good consultancies. My aim is to shift to SA texas and find a job their. Money is also a constraint and crunch and I need to find out a solution fast. Please help

          • Jigar Shah

            There’s NONE
            if you would contact such companies (microsoft/google/amazon), and clear interviews, they would consider filing h1 in april.

    • suhasini udayar

      Hi Jigar,
      I hold 3 years of experience with Java web services. Are there still any openings in Amazon for web services. And I am also looking for some consultancy who can convert H4 to H1. Please let me know the best way because it’s hard find a genuine consultant and when I try to call the good one’s they say they don’t take H4s. Awaiting reply.

      Thanks,
      Suhasini

      • Jigar Shah

        It’s kindda of late now… if you would contact such companies (microsoft/google/amazon), and clear interviews, they would consider filing h1 in april.

  • Arnab Karmakar

    Why not get into a successful business idea. Probably one of your near close friend might already be doing this business. Check this article http://planningpersonalfinance.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/start-your-own-business-ii/

  • Monalisa

    Nice article . Really informative . Thanks for showing empathy for H4 as well as F2 ( F1 dependent ) visa holders.
    Myself B.A.M.S. graduate from India. with 1 year of experience of practice . I have been here in U.S. on F2 dependent Visa since 8 months. All i can see is if you really have enthusiasm for pursuing education as well as have financial support for the same you must go for GRE/ GMAT n empower yourself with education so that you can search for job. IF not them at least search for volunteer job, they are plenty outside. even people in various organisation are welcoming you for help. you can remain in touch with your stream , get knowledge about current advancement in your field . Volunteer ship also offer you experience certificate if you do continue that job for specific time period. such letters also considered as valid experience in schools of US.

  • Monalisa

    Nice article . Really informative . Thanks for showing empathy for H4 as well as F2 ( F1 dependent ) visa holders.
    Myself B.A.M.S. graduate from India. with 1 year of experience of practice . I have been here in U.S. on F2 dependent Visa since 8 months. All i can see is if you really have enthusiasm for pursuing education as well as have financial support for the same you must go for GRE/ GMAT n empower yourself with education so that you can search for job. If not then, at least search for volunteer job, their are plenty outside. even people in various organisation are welcoming you for help. you can remain in touch with your stream , get knowledge about current advancement in your field . Volunteer ship also offer you experience certificate if you do continue that job for specific time period. such letters also considered as valid experience in schools of US.

    • kk

      Hi Monalisa,
      Even my fiancé is in a similar situation with BAMS and MD in ayurveda from india. What do you advice?

      • Monalisa

        Hey KK
        As this article suggest there are plenty of courses out there in health care field you just have to have particular interest and Financial support. (GRE , Toefl, prerequisites )
        After done with some research I found that along with Volunteer opportunities there are some “Observer posts” where they allow you in hospital to observe procedures performed by specialists . I think your fiance ll be interested in this one.
        Even there are some certifications which BAMS can get through with. We just have to be careful about eligibility and prerequisites .
        I am experiencing difficulties and barriers in pursuing career here in U.S. but we just have to be patient and find our way out by helping each other.
        All The Best!!

    • Truther Pleaseea

      hi Mona, Never make the mistake of Volunteering. This is actually Illegal. The rule says that you cannot work for a positions that would have caused a person from not being hired.

      The second point is Volunteering is against American Ethics and Capitalism. you work for and only for Compensation. when you volunteer it is considered that you are incapable of real work. look around you, people who volunteer are usually old and senile people or people who are below employability age.

      The third point. When you Volunteer you will find the people always praising you and saying thanks and things like how they appreciate… have you ever heard them speak behind your back… they actually make fun of you….

      so good luck with volunteering.

  • http://bahnana.blogspot.com/ Liana Lütz

    I’m on H4, I went through the options 1 and 2. I got a job offer, they applied for my visa, but I didn’t get the visa because my petition was not selected in the lottery (here’s my story: http://bahnana.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-experience-as-h4.html). Now, I’m going to study, but it’s complicated, because H4 visa holders are not eligible for financial aid and we also cannot work to pay for school. :/

    • Jigar Shah

      Wow Liana…. That’s really unfortunate… People like you should have been prioritized in lottery over the people applying for H1Bs with no immediate plan to travel to US.

  • AK

    If you are on H4 or F2 (when you do not have work authorization), go for other options mentioned above or you can also start enjoying your life while you are here in US with your spouse – Explore new places etc. You have chosen the H1 or F1 person as a spouse but not exactly came here to work on specific VISA. You can also focus on the family development and taking care of children until they go to the school or until they are are at age of 8 or 9 or so approx. During this time Your spouse continues to work .. It all depends on you and your goals on your self happiness or money earning.

  • Manan

    Hi all,
    H4 people can not work but there is no restriction to open your own business.
    Business of selling any product, service, local or international.
    Its very easy process to open your own LLC, you get your company tax ID and can collect payments.
    Openion LLC is very easy with the state website, please do not spend 700$ (Like I did :) ) on online firms who provide openion LLC service.
    Its like 1-2-3 step.
    If you need help to open LLC, call your secratory of state.
    Good luck folks.
    The journey is long.
    #namo4pm

    • DK

      hi Manan,

      Can you please give me details…I want to start my food/snacks business. what should i do?

      • Jigar Shah

        Start it !

  • nofearinheaven

    H4 person should be given conditional EAD status. Why is it so hard for USCIS to understand H4′s people concern? Thousands of H4 people are highly educated and not doing anything. Fear is the root cause of all misery!

  • dk

    Hi I am on H4 visa can i do trading in my NSE account.Or can i do trading in my brothers account?

    • Jigar Shah

      How does this question relates to this forum? Does trading in NSE requires H1B?

  • rose

    Hi.. I am h4 visa holder and have m.tech degree but I don’t have any experience in industry can I apply to h1b visa

    • Jigar Shah

      Sure, but chances would be limited since there are tons of experienced people not getting H1B sponsorship.

  • Vani

    Hi All, I will be leaving for US to be with my husband who is on H1B. I have a H4 visa. I am looking after my family business here in India. Can I continue working online to help my family run business here without getting paid? (Just to kill time and to lessen some burden on my family). Will this be considered as some sort to tax evasion?

  • Anonymous

    Reality is: there are no good sponsors for H1b visa these days. I have around 8 years of Software Development experience, and still couldn’t find any other good company who can sponsor my visa. If there is any company looking and willing to sponsor please contact me by replying here, so that other similar candidates can also benefit.

    Thanks.

  • Sourav M

    to file h4, what are the docs primarily required?

  • Dr.Kruti Tailor

    Hi.I’ll be in Us in month of may on H4 visa.I am Ph.D. in Mathematics.Please guide me for job in academic.

  • RB

    Please check our new blog H4 visa, a curse http://h4-visa-a-curse.blogspot.com/ Be a part of discussions and regular updates by liking our new Facebook page (not the group)https://www.facebook.com/H4visaacurse. Invite your friends to do the same. The blog will hopefully give you an insight about the H4 visa related provisions, laws, advocacy ideas and much more. The large traffic on our FB group has motivated me to start a new FB page which is more organized with advanced settings and features.

  • Truther Pleaseea

    OR try Canada/New Zealand/ Australia if your husband is an IT guy. you can get a green card within 6 months time.

    I disagree with going back because

    1. you have ventured out because you wanted a better life. a better standard of living. So when you can get the same standard – in fact a better standard of living than USA in Canada why don’t your try that. For instance you will become a citizen within 3 years and you actually get a PR within 6 months. And the Canadian government has so much money unlike USA (thanks to president bush who fought 2 wars and spent all the money). when a child is born in Canada – the Canadian Government pays $100 per month for the child’s well being. and when you retire all your healthcare is taken care of by the government. compare that to USA, if a child is born in the USA you land up spending $7000 deductible in North Carolina USA.

    2. What r u going to do with your ego when you return. All these years you have been posting these wonderful pictures in facebook of you having such a wonderful time. All these lies you have been saying about what a wonderful place USA is? how are you gonna handle questions from friends, relatives. you will have to tell them the truth when you return now. you will have to tell them how you were a prisoner in your own house. bound by rules made by the American Government. If you do not want to face those questions from friends and relatives. you will have to look for an alternative. That is the only go.

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