Can H-4 Visa Holder Work in USA Without EAD? A Definitive Answer

Can H-4 Visa Holder Work in USA Without EAD?
Can H-4 visa holders work in the USA without EAD?


If you are an H-4 visa holder, you may be wondering if you can work in the USA without an EAD (Employment Authorization Document).

The answer is no. Working without a valid EAD is a violation of your visa status and can have serious consequences for your immigration future.

In this article, we will explain why you need an EAD to work in the USA, how to apply for one, and what the latest developments are on this issue.

What is an EAD, and why do you need one?

An EAD is a card that shows that you are authorized to work in the USA.

It is also known as a work permit or a work authorization card. You need an EAD to work in the USA because your H-4 visa does not allow you to work by itself.

Your H-4 visa only allows you to stay in the USA as the dependent spouse of an H-1B visa holder who is a skilled worker in a specialty occupation.

You cannot work, volunteer, or start a business in the USA without an EAD.

How do I apply for an EAD?

To request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must fulfill specific eligibility requirements and submit a form along with various documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The eligibility criteria encompass the following conditions:

  1. Your spouse should hold an H-1B visa and possess an approved I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or have received an extension under the AC21 (American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act) provisions.
  2. You must maintain a valid H-4 status, along with a valid passport and visa.
  3. Documentation, such as a marriage certificate, is required to verify your relationship with your spouse.

The requisite form for submission is the I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), available for download on the USCIS website.

Additionally, the submission requires the following documents:

  1. A copy of your current I-797 (Notice of Action) for either your I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) or your I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) indicating your H-4 status.
  2. A photocopy of your government-issued photo identification, such as your passport, EAD, or driver’s license.
  3. A duplicate of your marriage certificate.
  4. A copy of your spouse’s I-140 approval notice or evidence of their H-1B extension under AC21.

The application process also involves a fee of $410 and the provision of two passport-style photographs.

You can submit your application to the USCIS either by mail or online.

The processing duration for an EAD varies, ranging from a few weeks to several months, contingent on the USCIS workload.

Checking the application status is possible through online tracking or by contacting the USCIS directly.

What are the latest developments on the H-4 EAD rule?

The H-4 EAD regulation was introduced in 2015 by the Obama administration to permit specific H-4 spouses to engage in employment within the United States.

Nevertheless, the rule encountered potential termination when the Trump administration suggested rescinding it in 2017.

Legal disputes and public input led to a delay in implementing the proposal. Recently, the Biden administration withdrew the proposition, affirming the continuity of the H-4 EAD rule.

This decision brings significant relief to numerous H-4 spouses who rely on their EADs for employment, contributing to both their families and the economy.

It is crucial to note, however, that the rule remains provisional and is subject to potential alterations by future administrations or legal rulings.

Therefore, staying informed about the latest news and developments on this matter is imperative.


In summary, working in the USA as an H-4 visa holder necessitates obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Eligible individuals must apply for an EAD by meeting specific criteria and submitting the required form and documents to the USCIS.

As of now, the H-4 EAD rule remains in effect and has not been rescinded by the Biden administration.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that this rule is not permanent and may undergo changes in the future.

Therefore, seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer or an expert is advisable before making any decisions regarding work and immigration status.

We trust that this article has provided clarity on whether H-4 visa holders can work in the USA without an EAD.

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