Immigration Lawyer Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man

Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.

Can I have both an H-1B visa and an H-4 visa at the same time?

00162255QUESTION: I have a valid H1B visa stamp. But my employer in the US does not have a project for me to work on at the moment so I cannot come to the US using my H1B visa. My husband also has a valid H-1B visa stamp and is in the US.  For personal reasons I need to travel to him urgently. Can I apply for an H4 visa? If I am granted an H4 visa will that cancel my H1B visa? If I come to the US on an H4 visa, can I change my status to H1B later?

THE IMMIGRATION ANSWER MAN – ARI SAUER: Someone with a valid H-1B visa in their passport is still able to obtain an H-4 visa in their passport as well, where their spouse is in H-1B status. Obtaining the H-4 visa does not cancel the H-1B visa. You are allowed to have more than one valid nonimmigrant visa at the same time. However, you can only use one visa at a time. So someone with both a valid H-1B visa and a valid H-4 visa would have to use one or the other when they travel to the US. If the person enters on the H-4 visa and then wants to work in H-1B status for their H-1B employer, they will first need to leave the US and return on their valid H-1B visa. Alternatively, their employer could file a new H-1B petition for them to change their status from H-4 to H-1B, but they would need to wait until that petition for change of status was approved and the start date was reached before they could begin working in H-1B status.

A word of caution: while obtaining a second nonimmigrant visa does not invalidate the first nonimmigrant visa, if the consular officer determines that you are no longer eligible for the first nonimmigrant visa, they have the ability to cancel that visa. For example, if someone has a B-1/B-2 visitor visa in their passport, and the consular officer determines that the person has immigrant intent (they plan to stay in the US and apply for a green card) during the person’s application for an H-1B visa, the consular officer may choose to cancel the B-1/B-2 visitor visa.


Published 10/1918 by attorney Ari Sauer.

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Submit questions to Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man by emailing your question to Questions submitted by email may be posted on this site, without personal information, unless the email specifically requests that we not use the question for this site. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions submitted will be answered. Only general questions can be answered on this blog. For answers to specific questions about your situation, please schedule a consultation appointment with attorney Ari Sauer. Sending in a question by email or any other means does not create an attorney-client relationship. * This is an advertisement. Ari Sauer is an attorney with the Siskind Susser law firm. On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing and the rules stated may not be current or apply to your particular situation. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer rather than relying on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states of Tennessee, New York and New Jersey but is eligible to assist clients from throughout the US. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed. the opinions expressed here are those of Ari Sauer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Siskind Susser.


3 comments on “Can I have both an H-1B visa and an H-4 visa at the same time?

  1. May
    November 2, 2018

    Hello Ari Sauer,
    I had J1 visa and my wife had J2 dependent status (expired Aug 2018). I was able to obtain waiver from the Dept of State and later got USCIS approval as well in Jan 18. I left the US in the last week of Aug before my status got expired. At that time, my employer asked to fill I-129 for me and, I-539 for my wife so that they can submit forms for approval. My H1b application got approved by end of Oct 2018. Though I was surprised to see that my wife’s I-539 application to change status got declined as by Oct we were in our home country. Now my plan is to visit the US Embassy so that I can get my first H1b and my wife can obtain H4 visas stamped at the same time. Will that work? or I-539 denial will not let her grant H4 status? For H4 dependent, does she need any approval or any documents (like before when she had J2, she needs to present DS2019 form) to appear for interview or my documents as primary applicant will work for her?. Sorry for too many questions with this post as your suggestions will help me in drawing conclusion with this.
    Thanks in advance!

    • MS, it sounds like you and your wife are fine. The I-539 was denied by USCIS because your wife no longer needed it. Had you both stayed in the US, her I-539 probably would have been approved. But once she left the US she no longer needed the extension of status because she was going to need a visa to come back into the US anyway. The H-4 visa is based upon your H-1B petition approval and the fact that she is your spouse. She does not need her own petition or anything like the DS-2019.

      • May
        November 6, 2018

        Thank you Ari Sauer for your reply. Appreciate it! Now I understood the process quite well after your reply.

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