Dependent Visa

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The Dependent Visa category enables the dependents of a person who is a permanent resident or a citizen, or a temporary worker or a temporary student, of the country for which an applicant is applying to obtain their visa to join or accompany them. This type of application typically applies to family and children.

The person who is a permanent resident or US Citizen or International Student or a Foreign Worker, and upon whom the application is based is referred to as the ‘sponsor’.

Types of Dependent Visas

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The law allowing certain H4 visa holder spouses to be eligible to get EAD was passed in 2014/2015. Those who are eligible can apply starting May 26, 2015 onwards. However, it is important to understand that not all H4 visa holders qualify for EAD.

Eligibility

In order for H4 visa holder spouse to be eligible to apply for EAD

Spouse must be on valid H­1 visa status and must maintain valid H­1 visa status. If the H1 spouse is not in valid H­1 visa status, H4 visa EAD cannot be applied  until the H1 spouse gets back into valid H­1 visa status.

The H4 visa based EAD is available only to spouses of H­1 visa holders who fall into one of following two Categories

  1. Even if I­140 was approved and later H­1B spouse moved to another employer, that is fine.
    However, if that approved I­140 is revoked, H­4 visa holder can NOT apply for EAD any longer.
  2. Of course, it does not matter in what category the I­140 is approved. It can be EB­1, EB­2 or EB­3.
  3. As long as I­140 is approved, the length of time H­1B spouse has been in the US is irrelevant.
  4. H­4 visa EAD can be applied as soon as H­1B spouse’s I­140 is approved as there is no waiting time (minimum duration) after the approval of I­140 when H­4 visa can be applied.
  • H­1B spouse must have extended H1B status beyond the initial 6 years under  AC­21 rule in one year increments. That happens when the H­1 spouse’s employer has a Perm Labor Certification (LC) I­140 filed for H­1B beneficiary at least 365 days prior to the end of sixth year of H1B status.
  1. Either Perm Labor Certification (LC) or I­140 application must not have received a final denial or revocation decision.
  2. It is not necessary that the Perm LC or I­140 is approved.
  3. Just because H­1B visa holder has been in the US for more than 6 years, it does not make the H4 visa holder eligible to apply for EAD. This would happen if the H­1B spouse came to the U.S. on student visa (for example) and studied in the US for several years before changing to H­1B visa. The condition as mentioned here must be met.
  4. As long as this condition is satisfied, it’s fine even if the H­1B spouse is in 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th or any year of H­1B status.
Advantages

There are several advantages of H4 visa EAD.

  • H4 visa EAD holder can work full time or part time for any employer in any position or in any field. Of course, if H4 visa EAD holder chooses not to work, that is absolutely fine too.
  • H4 visa based EAD holder can start their own business of any kind.
  • H4 visa holder does not need a job offer in order to be eligible for EAD.
  • There is no quota for H4 EAD and also there is no deadline to apply for the same.

Spouse (legally married husband or wife) and unmarried minor children (under the age of 21 years) are eligible to accompany the L­1 visa holder on L­2 visa. As L­2 visa is a dependent visa, the duration of valid stay is the same as that of the L­1 visa holder. That is, up to 7 years in case of dependents of L1A visa and up to 5 years in case of dependents of L1B visa. L­2 visa holders are allowed to travel in and out of the U.S. provided their L2 visa status and L2 visa stamp remain valid

Work Permit ­ EAD

The major advantage of L­2 dependent visa over H­4 dependent visa is that L­2 visa spouse is allowed to work in the U.S. once Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is filed with the USCIS and is approved. Once you get EAD card, you should go to the Social Security office and apply for Social Security Number, if you already don’t have one. L­2 visa holder with EAD can do any legal job or business anywhere in the U.S., part-time or full­time, off­line or on­line or from home or remotely. They can work in high tech, grocery store or restaurant or whichever legal business they want to work in. In other words, L2 visa EAD allows ‘open market’ employment authorization. L­2 visa holder spouse cannot work in the U.S. before getting the EAD approved.

EAD for L2 spouse is valid up to 2 years at a time. EAD can be renewed as long as the person remains in the valid L­2 status.

L2 visa allows EAD, L2 visa holder spouses are not forced to forego their carriers and can work while in the U.S.

If you intend to work in the U.S.  on  L2,  you  should  apply  for  EAD  immediately  and  not wait  for  some employer  to interview  you or offer you a job. And don’t expect that prospective employer to file your EAD. They have nothing do with it and you have to file it  yourself.

Dependent children on L2 visa are NOT eligible to apply for EAD.

Study

L­2 visa holders are permitted to attend school either part-time or full­time.

Change of Status

L­2 visa holders are allowed to change their non¬immigrant status to others such as B­1, B­2, H­1, H­4 (provided the primary visa holder will be on H1 visa) or even L­1.

In case you decide to change your status to H­1 visa or L visa later, the time you have already spent in the
U.S. on L­2 visa will not be counted towards the maximum duration allowed on H­1B visa or L visa.

If the primary visa holder changes the status from H¬1 visa to L­1 visa, the dependents are allowed to change the status from H­4 visa to L­2 visa.

If you change the status from L­2 to H­4 visa because the primary visa holder changed from L­1 to H­1, the EAD that you received while on L2 is no longer valid and you can’t continue to work once you are on H­4.

L­2 Visa Extension

If the immediate family members of the L­1 visa holder are already in the U.S., they can seek change of status to or extension of stay in L­2 status by filing Form I­539.

Green Card

When the L­1 visa holder applies for the green card, L­2 visa holders can also be included in that process and can apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. or immigrant visa outside the U.S.

As long as you are on a valid L­2 visa status, after applying for Adjustment of Status, you don’t need to apply for Advance Parole in order to enter back into the U.S.

Visa Stamping

It is recommended that the spouse and dependent children go for their visa interview at the same time as the principal applicant.

Ineligible Dependents

Some people who come to the U.S. on L­1 visa would like to bring their parents along with them, possibly on L­2 visa. Reasons given are sometimes like I am the only son, and there is no one to take care of my elderly parents and it is my duty to do so. Or my father has passed away and my widow mother would be left all alone in India. My parents are completely dependent upon me etc.

However, in the U.S., parents are not considered your dependents. Not at least for L-2 or any other dependent visa purposes. Therefore, your parents may visit you for a short time occasionally on a visitor’s visa. However, they cannot stay for all the time you will be in the U.S. on L­1 visa. If they make frequent visits and have excessive stays, that is not consistent with the purpose of visitor’s visa and they would face trouble entering the U.S. in the future. You will need to decide whether you would like to leave them in your home country and work in the U.S. or continue to do the job in your home country so that you can stay with your parents. However, there is no provision in the U.S. law to make exceptions for you, no matter what your situation is.

Spouse and/or minor children (under the age of 21 years) of J­1 exchange visitors who accompany or later join the J­1 holder in the U.S. can apply for J­2 visa. J2 visa, a dependent visa and its immigration status ends at the same time as the associated J­1 visitor’s status.
Duration of the stay under J­2 visa is the same as the duration of J­1 visa. Extended family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and beyond are not eligible for J­2 visa.

Domestic Partners

The cohabiting (married) partner of the J­1 participant, whether of the same or opposite sex, whose primary purpose in coming to the U.S. is to accompany his/her partner can be issued a B­2 visa as long as such partner does not intend to work, and is otherwise eligible for a visa. Even though visiting on B­2 visa is usually for a short period of time, in this case, it is permissible for the accompanying partner to intend to accompany the principal visa holder for the duration of an exchange program in the U.S.

Eligibility

Eligibility for a J­2 visa depends upon the specific exchange program of the J­1 holder. The exchange categories of au pair, camp counselor, secondary school student and summer work travel do not permit J­2 visas. Additionally, even though some categories allow for dependents to accompany a J­1 visa holder, some specific programs don’t.

The F-2 dependent visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows dependent spouses and children (unmarried, under 21 years old) of F-1 student visa holders to enter into the U.S.

Advantages:

On F2 visa, you may:

  • Enter the U.S. along with your spouse or join him or her later
  • Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously as long as you maintain valid F-2 status
  • You may stay in the U.S. as long as the principal F-1 visa holder maintains valid status. You lose your status once the principal applicant loses F-1 status.
  • There are no travel restrictions on F-2 visa. You may travel as many times as possible, provided you maintain valid F status.
  • You may apply for change of status while on F-2 visa. However you cannot take up the new activity/endeavour until the change of status is approved.
Disadvantages:

On F2 Visa, you:

  • You may not take up paid employment while in the U.S. on F-2 visa.
  • As an F-2 spouse you may not engage in full time study and F-2 child may only engage in full time elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade) study. F-2 spouse or child may engage in a study that is avocational or recreational in nature.