Dear Mentor:

How should I convert my H1 to H4?

I lost my job 10 days ago. I need to change my H1B visa to H4 (since my husband is a H1-B holder). What kind of document do I need to change my visa status?

Converting H1 to H4, San Jose, CA, USA

Dear Converting H1 to H4:

We wish to note that we are not immigration lawyers. You will be well advised to contact a US INS (Immigration & Naturalization Service) office near you or retain an immigration attorney. We can however offer you some relevant information.

First some terminology. The US H1-B visa is for temporary employment and the H4 visa is issued to the immediate dependents of the H1-B visa holder.

We addressed in an earlier column the issue of an H1 visa holder losing the job: After losing my job, what is my visa status? Essentially, the INS has publicly stated that it would deal fairly with such temporary residents in the US and would allow them to stay in the US while looking for another job. How this translates into action for individual cases is not very clear.

In any case, the documents typically required for the H4 applicants are as follow:

  • Completed visa application along with the applicable fee
  • Original and valid Passport
  • 2 recent color photograph, (2x2 inches or 5x5 cm) for each applicant showing full face, preferably without head covering, and with a light background. Always keep some extra photos with you.
  • Your original marriage certificate
  • 4-5 marriage photographs. All the pictures must be very clear and easy to identify both the bride, and the bridegroom
  • Sample of each sides marriage invitation card
  • A copy of your spouse's H1 visa and passport.

The INS may require additional documents or information, depending on individual cases.

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