The Top Strategies for H4 Visa Holders to Work From Home and Thrive

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Dec 31, 2022

Are you on an H4 visa and wondering if you are allowed to work from home?

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), H4 visa holders are not authorized to work in the U.S. and are not allowed to engage in any type of employment, whether it is paid or unpaid.

While the rules and regulations surrounding work authorization on an H4 visa can be complex, there are options available for those who are interested in earning an income while living in the U.S.

In this article, we will explore the various options and considerations for H4 visa holders who want to work from home, including starting a business or freelancing, finding remote work opportunities, and obtaining a work visa in a different category.

So if you are on an H4 visa and are looking for ways to earn an income while living in the U.S., read on to learn more about your options.

Real quick, before we get too far into it here, if you want to connect with other remote workers – and make some new friends! – or would love to make your home office space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

What is an H4 visa?

Just so we can make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s clarify what an H4 visa is.

The H4 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that is granted to the dependent spouse and children of an H-1B visa holder, who is a temporary worker in the United States.

This visa category allows the dependent spouse and children to accompany the H-1B visa holder to the U.S. and reside in the country while the principal beneficiary is working. The H4 visa does not allow the dependent spouse to work in the U.S. unless they are able to obtain work authorization through other means, such as an approved I-140 petition or a pending green card application.

The H4 visa can be a challenging visa category for those who want to work in the U.S., because it does not generally allow for work authorization. However, there are some options available for H4 visa holders who want to work from home, and this blog post will explore these options in detail.

By understanding these concepts and exploring the options available to H4 visa holders who want to work from home, readers can make informed decisions about their own situation and determine the best course of action.

Can You Travel While Working Remotely? Here’s Everything You Need To KnowCan H4 visa holders work from home?

It’s important to understand the restrictions on work authorization for H4 visa holders, as well as the potential exceptions and options that may be available to you.

Generally, H4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States. H4 visas are considered dependent visas, meaning they are issued to the spouse or children of the “principal beneficiary,” who holds an H-1B, L-1, or other work visa. As a dependent spouse or child, you are not authorized to work in the U.S. unless you have obtained a separate work visa of your own.

However, there are some exceptions and options that may be available to H4 visa holders who want to work from home.

If you are the spouse of an H-1B visa holder and your spouse has an approved I-140 petition (a petition for an immigrant worker), you may be eligible to apply for work authorization. In this case, you would need to submit an EAD application (more on that in a minute) by filing an I-765 form with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request permission to work.[1][2]

Additionally, if you are the spouse of an H-1B visa holder and your spouse has a pending green card application, you may be eligible to apply for work authorization. In this case, you would need to file an I-765 form with USCIS, along with a copy of your spouse’s I-140 petition and a copy of your spouse’s H-1B approval notice.

If you are not eligible for work authorization through these exceptions, you may still have some options for working from home.

For example, you could consider starting a business or freelancing, as long as you obtain any necessary business licenses and pay taxes on any income earned.

You could also consider seeking remote work opportunities with foreign companies that are willing to sponsor a work visa for you. Alternatively, you may be able to obtain a work visa in a different category, such as the H-1B or L-1, if you meet the requirements for those visas.

It’s important to keep in mind that working illegally on an H4 visa can have serious consequences, including deportation and the inability to obtain future visas.

If you are considering any work opportunities while on an H4 visa, it’s crucial to understand the legal requirements and limitations and to seek legal advice and assistance if necessary.

Options for H4 visa holders who want to work from home

If you are an H4 visa holder and you are interested in working from home, there are a few different options to consider. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Starting a business or freelancing

H4 visa holders are not allowed to actively pursue employment or work remotely for a foreign company or even as a freelancer. That’s the bad news.

The good news there are other options.

Obtain your own work visa in a different category

If you want to get creative and are ready to put in the work, you may want to consider trying to find work visa in a different category.

Two options to consider are the H-1B and L-1 visas.

The H-1B visa is for professionals who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialty field, so if you are credentialed, qualified for this visa, and have a specialization in demand getting your own H1-B visa my be your path to getting work in the U.S.

The L-1 visa is for executives and managers who are transferring from a foreign company to a U.S. branch or subsidiary of the same company, so if you have experience in management or executive roles, this could be an option for you.

Keep in mind that these visas have their own requirements and limitations, so you will need to research them carefully to see if you are eligible.

Find an employer to sponsor you

Another option for H4 visa holders who want to work from home is to look for remote work opportunities with companies that are willing to sponsor a work visa. So many companies are now offering remote work options, and some may be willing to sponsor a work visa for the right candidate.

If you are interested in this option, the best option is to start by researching companies that have sponsored work visas in the past and reaching out to see if they have any current openings.

Home Office Setup Tips & Ideas For Two PeopleGet An Employment Authorization Card

In 2015, the U.S. government made changes to allow for some H4 visa holders the opportunity to work in the U.S., provided that specific requirements are met. In order to qualify for this exception, you must be the spouse of an H1B visa holder who meets one of the following conditions: [3]

  1. The principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This means that your spouse has already filed a PERM labor certification and has an I-140 petition approved.
  2. H-1B status has been granted to the individual, in accordance with AC21 of 2000 and its amendments relating to sections 106(a) and (b). This allows for an extension of H-1B status beyond the initial six years for those who have already applied for permanent residence in the U.S. This means that your spouse has taken steps to obtain permanent residence and is currently eligible for an extended stay in the U.S. on an H-1B visa.

In order to apply for an Employment Authorization Card (EAD), which is a temporary work permit, your spouse’s H1B visa must be valid.

While these new rules are a step in the right direction for the spouses of H1B visa holders who are on their way to obtaining permanent residence, they do not apply to the many others whose spouses are simply on H1B visas and not yet close to applying for permanent residence.

This means that if your spouse is on an H1B visa and you are on an H4 visa, you may not be eligible to work from home unless you meet one of the conditions listed above. It is always a good idea to seek legal advice and guidance if you have questions or concerns about your eligibility to work while on an H4 visa.

What about passive income?

It’s technically possible for H4 visa holders to earn passive income, such as money from investments or rental properties, as long as it is not the primary purpose of their stay in the U.S.

Passive income refers to any income that is generated without actively working for it. This can include things like rent from a property, dividends from stocks or mutual funds, or income from a business that requires little or no effort to maintain.

For H4 visa holders, passive income is generally allowed as long as it is not the primary purpose of their stay in the U.S. This means that you can earn passive income while on an H4 visa, but you cannot intentionally seek out opportunities to earn income or work for pay, passively or actively.

No doubt that the rules and regulations for H4 visas can be complex, and it is always a good idea to seek legal advice and guidance if you have questions or concerns about your eligibility to work or earn income while on an H4 visa. An immigration attorney or other qualified legal professional can help you understand the specific requirements and restrictions that apply to your situation.

A word of caution

No matter which option you choose, it is important to understand the legal requirements and limitations for working on an H4 visa. Make sure you are complying with all applicable laws and regulations, and consider seeking legal advice and assistance if you have any questions or concerns. With some careful planning and research, you should be able to find a work from home option that works for you.

Options for studying and working on an h4 visa

One option for H4 visa holders who are interested in studying as a path to working in the U.S. is to apply for a change of status to an F1 or J1 visa. This process involves satisfying certain conditions and submitting the necessary paperwork. Some of the steps you may need to take include:

  • First off, your spouse must have a valid H1B visa
  • Getting a valid I-20 from your university along with an I-901 SEVIS receipt is necessary. [4][5]
  • Obtaining an F1 or J1 visa stamp by traveling outside the U.S., provided that you have all necessary documents and receipts
  • To apply for a change of status from within the U.S., one must file a I-539 form, taking into consideration any applicable travel restrictions. [6]
  • If you are approved for an F1 visa, you may be eligible to apply for optional practical training (OPT) or curricular practical training (CPT) upon graduation. These programs allow you to gain practical experience in your field of study and potentially find employment in the U.S. after completing your studies.

It’s important to realize that a valid F1 visa stamp is usually required for on-campus employment if you’re working on an F1 visa.

You may also be able to explore other visa categories, such as the J1 or O1, but keep in mind that these options may involve additional requirements and the possibility of administrative complications. It is always a good idea to speak with the international office at your university and seek legal advice and guidance if you have questions or concerns about changing your status to an F1 or J1 visa.

Final thoughts for H4 visa holders who want to work from home

As an H4 visa holder, it’s important to understand the legal requirements and limitations for working in the United States. H4 visas are designed for dependents of H-1B, L-1, and other types of nonimmigrant workers, and they do not generally allow for employment in the U.S. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For example, certain H4 visa holders may be eligible for work authorization if they have an approved I-140 petition (a petition for an immigrant worker) or if they are the spouse of an H-1B visa holder with a pending green card application. If you fall into one of these categories, you may be able to apply for work authorization through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

It’s important to understand that working illegally on an H4 visa can have serious consequences. If you work without proper authorization, you could be deported and banned from returning to the U.S. in the future. It’s also important to note that if you are caught working illegally, it could negatively impact your spouse’s work status and any future immigration applications.

Next Steps

Want to connect with other people who work from home who are creating the most amazing home offices and get more tips, tricks and hacks on how to make your home office setup the best it can be?

Join my brand new free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks to connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best!

Resources

  1. https://www.uscis.gov/i-140
  2. https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
  3. https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/employment-authorization-for-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses
  4. https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/prepare/students-and-the-form-i-20
  5. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-539instr.pdf

Robert David Orr

Robert is a writer & creator, author of the WordPress Website Blueprint, award winning web developer, and leader in digital strategy. He's also a tenured work at home veteran who's been working from home for more than 10 years. Learn more. Got questions? Reach out and connect here - Contact Home Office Hacks here.

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