H4 visa MS in US In-state tuition Study in USA

Can H4 Visa Study in US, Get In-state Tuition ? Requirements, Advantages ?

In Decide MS - MBA in US by Kumar263 Comments

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about education of his wife on H4 visa and was discussing about advantages and disadvantages like in-state tuition, OPT, etc. I talked to few universities just to validate the information of H4 visa in-state requirements.  This article will focus on advantages of studying on H4 visa and some disadvantages too.

Why H4 Visa holders wish to study MS or MBA in USA ?
I have seen many of my friends who recently got married actively inquiring about H4 visa education requirements, how to send their wife to study MS or MBA in US.  There are a variety of reasons for H4 visa holders to aspire to study MS  or MBA in US.

  • Young educated professionals who are married to H1B holders in US are ambitious and would like to pursue higher education to reach their education goals.
  • Most of the young professional women are so bored at home and they are having hard time adjusting from their busy work life before marriage and slow house wife life staying at home. They want to keep themselves busy and get education instead of wasting time sitting at home.
  • Also, one of the significant reasons is the H1B rules of 2011 impact on H4 visa conversion to H1B visa.
  • Some of them see the advantages of going back to school and taking advantage of OPT and other visa and tuition fee related advantages.

In-state tuition Eligibility for H4 visa holders in USA 
In fact, I was not sure on this until recent conversation with my friends and inquiring various schools about H4 visa in-state tuition. In reality, most of the state schools in USA give in-state tuition for H4 visa dependent holders based on few conditions listed below.

  • H4 visa holder has to be married and be dependent to H1B visa holder for at least one year and lived in the same state for at least one year.
  • The H1B visa holder of H4 dependent should have paid state taxes and have proof of Residency by providing all or few of the below :
    • State Drivers license stating one year or more stay in State
    • House Lease documents  proof
    • W2 Forms, state tax filing papers
    • Car Registration document in the state
    • Bank account in the state.

I have talked to UW Madison Residency office and they said, the H4 visa holder has to be in the state with husband for more than an year to claim the in-state tuition. Also, I have talked to North Carolina State University Residency office and they said they provide in-state for H4 visa holders, but they would need to look in detail. Similar was the case with University of California Berkley ,  Virginia State University Domicile Residency requirements . The in-state tuition eligibility can vary by state and there  are always exceptions and you will have to check with school you are applying to. In general, H4 visa holders are eligible, in most of the states, for in-state tuition in state funded schools provided they meet few requirements. You will need to check with specific school you plan to apply to verify the policy based on state regulations.

Advantages of Studying on H4 Visa
Well, If you do not know what in-state fee means, Read : In-state vs Out-of State tuition. Can you get in-state tuition if you work in US for more than year ?

  • If you meet the requirements as listed above for in-state tuition, the biggest advantage is Tuition fee savings. Your total tuition is less than one half. You will save at least 50 – 60 % of tuition or more depending on the tuition fee structure.
  • You can study Full time and do not worry about working during studying. Your husband pays for your school and you get all the time in the world to study and focus on education.
  • If you have worked in India for some time, you may have an advantage over others in terms of grasping subjects quickly and performing better.
  • Once you graduate, you will be eligible for 20,000 additional H1B visas category for Masters in US. If you complete at the right time and find a H1B sponsor at right time, you may apply for H1B visa and work in US on H1B visa utilizing the extra quota for H1B visa.

Disadvantages of Studying on H4 visa :

  • You will not be able to work On-Campus and cannot utilize the opportunities of TA, RA or GA funding options of University
  • You will not be able to work on CPT as F1 students.
  • You will not be eligible for a minimum of 1 year OPT
  • If you belong to STEM Degree category, you will not be able to use the 17 month extension of OPT for STEM Degrees
  • (This is applicable only if you plan to change to F1 visa after re-entry ) If you leave US for some reason and have to re-enter, you will have to get F1 Visa stamped on your passport.
  • If you do not meet the H4 in-state tuition requirements, you will have to wait for one year to meet the requirements. This is one year waste of time !

How to prep yourself for In-state Tuition eligibility on H1B and H4 Visas

Make sure you follow the below steps after you move to a new state, so that you do not regret after one year of stay for in-state tuition purpose.

  • Get a state drivers license in the first week or 10 days.
  • Register your Car and get State registration number plate in 10 days
  • Make sure you have lease on your name.
  • If you are a consultant, make sure you are paying taxes to the state you are living in, you must file taxes at end of year and have copy of W2 for future reference.
  • Open a bank account if you can in the state.

You may also read University of California Berkeley : How to Establish residency for Tuition purposes  . Hopefully, you got a good idea on H4 visa holder education in US with a gist of advantages and disadvantages. You have to carefully decide and talk to school DSO that  you are applying to before you jump into any conclusions.  You will not get any in-state tuition in Private schools !

What has been your experience ?  Did you get in-state tuition ? Share your experience.

Image Credits : http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdwaydiva1/2676105374/

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Comments ( 263 )

  1. Somya Gupta

    Hi,
    Its been an year staying in US on h4 visa, and my husband(H1-B) is been trying to get his green card initiated but no luck yet. I had a plan to write GRE/TOEFEL and pursue MS but I am currently 7 months pregnant. I am still looking forward to appear for GRE and probably get admission in any in state college. Are there certain Universities/Colleges which provide part time MS in such scenarios? Or if there are any other short term courses and if we can still get OPT? Please help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Somya,
      Usually, all the schools are very flexible with course load. It is up to you as student. You can take up one or two courses and do it part time. The degree does not say anything like part time or full time. So, nothing to worry. If you stay on H4, you can do it part time. But, the moment you go to F1 visa status, then you have to take full time load. So, you should be fine to take courses and in slow pace.

  2. Arun Minnasandran

    Hello Experts,

    My daughter is transferring to a US college from India. She currently has H4 and EAD. She will lose her H4 when she turns 21 in April 2018 but she has EAD because of pending I485. Is she eligible for student loans from credit unions, banks etc. Can she get a loan by herself or should I take a loan out and finance her studies. Which option is more cost effective.

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Arun,
      In general, you will be eligible for education loans, if you are a Green Card holder or Citizen. Some do give loans with co-signer. This has to be checked with the bank…If she can get a loan in US, that will always be cheaper. Check for options. Also, you can read this article How to pay education loan to get some idea, at the end we talk about other options

  3. ashley

    hi, how are you?

    I am a h4 holder. My question is what if i lived in the USA for 1.5 years, but at my state right now which i want to get a master degree’s school, i only lived here for 1 month. Does that passable for me to get a in state tuition?

    Thank you!

  4. Rupashree

    Hi,

    I moved to USA on Jan 2016 to New York and worked for 1.5 years. Recently I got converted into H4 Visa and I am staying in Houston currently.

    Will I be eligible for in state tuition advantages?
    Overall I stayed around 1.9 years in united states but not in the same state. How does it work for me?

  5. Lohitha

    Iam studying b tech final.i got married .my husband is working in u.s.after b tech i want to study m.s .after b tech i will go by h4 visa.I am able to study

    1. Rick

      Information stated is misleading not to mention wrong. I have checked with the Rutgers office of admissions which stated that only GC holders or US citizens are eligible for in state tuition

      Please check your facts before posting as many people rely on this site for making decisions

      1. administrator
        Kumar

        Rick,
        It is not misleading info, most of the states do offer in-state tuition for H4 spouses, if they qualify the requirement. Of course, there are always some states that are exceptions, which is NJ in your situation. We have not explicitly written about NJ in-state in the article to mislead anyone. You can check the links on the page that talks about h4 eligibility of in-state.

  6. Raji

    such a wonderful blog..keep up your good work. As one of our friends above asked, my question is also the same.
    Can we do a short term (atleast 1yr) certificate course to get eligible for OPT. Because I already have my M.Tech degree and not interested in doing a 3 yr or 2 yr MS. And I am just looking for a part time eligibility job(knew PT or FT doesnt make any difference). As far as my search I see some universities provide extension courses. Do you have any idea on these ?? Is it worth doing a certification to gain employment??

  7. vikash kumar

    I am looking for possible courses for my wife, who is a Masters in English literature from BHU, India. I live in Dallas, Texas so looking for nearby universities. I have spent around 1.5 years in Dallas and paid my taxes here. So I assume I should be able to get benefit utilize in-state fee.

  8. Jyothika

    Thank you very much for the useful information.. I have small question regarding Master’s degree for H4 dependent. Do we need to write any Test or do we need to have TOEFL score to get admission for MS into state university?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Jyothika,
      Your visa status has nothing to do with admission. You will need to take all the required tests that the University has for admission. if they require GRE for admission, then you need to take it. For TOEFL, you can speak to the university and may get waiver, if they believe that you have been in US and comfortable with American english. Check with the schools you plan to apply for precise list of tests needed.

  9. maha

    hi i got M.E (Ece dept & also a rank holder in master degree)i came us in h4 visa in mar 17. wish to work here. few of my frends says hav to apply for EAD for job. but some telling that green card have to get process for applying EAD. suggest me how i can get job. whether any short time courses possible to get job easier. pls help me

    1. Ram

      Maha, you can get EAD for H4 only if Green card process has been initiated for your Spouse. In that Green card process, your spouse must get his i140 approved. Only then you are eligible for H4 EAD.
      If you are not eligible for EAD, you need to look for an employer who could sponsor Visa for you and then on approval of the visa, you can start working.

  10. Sravan

    I have few queries regarding H4 and converting to F1

    1) How to avoid in-state fee? what are the things i need to do immediately after coming to US?
    Also, will I be able to void in-state fee even i apply to any other University like i stay in michigan now,but i would like apply to other universities as well which are not in MI. What is the case here?
    2) When is it ideal to convert to F1 from H4. Like I came to know that we dont need an I20 if we are on H4 and could show residency. Is this true?
    3) I have Master’s(in EE) already. But i would like to do another Masters(Wireless/Signal processing/telecommunication) before i go for Phd. Any suggestion on what are the rules to get double Masters.

  11. Vineeta

    Hi, I am on H4 visa currently and planning to apply for MS degree of next year Spring, as I am looking for In State tuition fee advantage, in University Of Washington. As per the requirement for in state tuition fee of University Of Washington, applicant should have got one of the driver’s license or state ID within 30 days of arrival but I happened to apply for the state ID late and applied it this week, whereas I arrived Washington in February 2017.

    Could you please let me know if I can still apply for in state tuition fee for Spring(March) quarter 2018 on basis of my leasing document and I94 which states that I am in Washington from Feb 2017 or I need to wait for Admissions in Aug 2018 till one year is over as per my state id?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Vineeta,
      It is always upto the discretion of the University. The whole reason they want to have one of that is to verify that you were in the state since then so that they can validate your residence. I would suggest you speak to the University in person and see if they can accommodate your request. You can offer to share your lease agreement, yours and your husbands tax returns, etc that can help verify the same. Again, it is always upto the discretion of the University…

  12. ritha

    Hello kumar,
    I m in H4 STATUS.As per current scenario /job market doing masters in h4 or f1 will land full-time jobs and sponsorship?I am not eligible either for instate tuition fee nor H4-ead currently.Which would be safer to study in h4 or f1 to get job opportunities?Kindly help.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      ritha,

      I have always preferred to education on F-1 rather than on H-4 as that opens the channel to apply for OPT and your own H-1 in AD category. This way your visa and spouse’s visa are mutually exclusive and one can rely on the other if something happens to one’s visa. If you remain on H-4 and get EAD and spouse’s H-1 runs into issue, it would impact you as well.

      1. ritha

        Thanks Saurabh.Traveling with F1 towards H1b would be better.But is this really true ” getting a job in H4EAD is easier since it requires no sponsorship?”

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Ritha,

          Working on H-4 EAD does open-up lot of options. While on F-1/OPT you are limited to job related to your F-1 study. While on H-4 EAD, you can work in any job – right from 7/11 clerk to an IT engineer.

  13. amr

    Hi,
    I am in H4 visa, I plan to join Masters in Fall 17 (STEM Course) but I am not eligible for instate tuition fee currently.I would qualify for Instate tuition from Spring 17.I would also qualify for H4 EAD in Fall 18. Should I convert from h4 to f1 (now to gain opt/cpt benefits) or Getting a job through H4 EAD is easier as visa sponsorship is not necessary as per current scenario?

  14. PrabhA

    Which universties accept my h4 visa for degree course in dallas. I enquired alot for this. But im not happy with there respones. Plz suggest me

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      PrabhA,
      Your visa status does not have anything do with admission. Once you get admission, you can study on H4. Schedule an in-person appointment with Universities regarding admission, they will definitely help you and address your questions.

      1. Prabha

        No they are taking f1 visa not h4 vida. Please suggest me any degree college in dallas which they take h4 visa students.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          We do not advise on schools. But, I do not see any reason for not taking H4 visa holders. You will NOT get an I20 as you will be on H4 status, you are as good as a normal US citizen kind of student…The school does not need to give you an I20 as you are not on F1, you will just need to submit a copy of your H4 to the DSO for reference.I am not sure, what’s the confusion. Speak to few of the schools in person.

  15. Shil

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this information. I have a question related to scholarships.

    Is an H4 Visa Holder eligible for scholarships ?

    Looking forward to your response.

  16. Shil

    Hi Kumar,

    Thanks for sharing this across. I needed some information regarding Scholarships.

    Is an H4 Visa Holder eligible for scholarships ?

    Looking forward to your response

    1. Advait

      Hi, did you get an answer to this question? I am offered a scholarship in a private university while I am in H4 provided I do some learning program for a few hours a week. Do you think it is legitimate?

  17. Pooja

    MAY 4, 2017 19:46:35 CDTREPLY
    Pooja
    Hi ,
    I have got my h1b approved on oct 2016 but due to personal reasons i changed my status to h4.
    1. Presently i am thinking of higher studies MS so my question is , should i study on h4 visa and then try getting job on h1 cap exempt or should i convert to f1 visa.
    2. Seecondly will it be a wise decision to take certificate courses on h4 and then go for job on h1b cap exempt

    I do have a career gap of 2 years so need a fresh start

  18. Pooja

    Hi ,
    I have got my h1b approved on oct 2016 but due to personal reasons i changed my status to h4.
    1. Presently i am thinking of higher studies MS so my question is , should i study on h4 visa and then try getting job on h1 cap exempt or should i convert to f1 visa.
    2. Seecondly will it be a wise decision to take certificate courses on h4 and then go for job on h1b cap exempt

    I do have a career gap of 2 years so need a fresh start

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