H4 EAD Work Process and How to apply

How to Apply for H4 EAD ? New, Renewal ? Biometrics? [2020]

In H4 Visa by KumarUpdated : 283 Comments

In general, H4 holders, who are spouses of H1B visa holders, cannot work in US. But that changed with H4 Visa EAD rule that was effective from May 26, 2015. EAD stands for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and H4 EAD essentially gives H4 holders the ability to work in US, if they qualify for EAD based on certain conditions. We will look at the requirements for H4 EAD, step by step process, new guidelines on biometrics from 2019 in this article.

H4 EAD Requirements – Who can apply for it ?

DHS gives employment authorization (EAD) to work in US for certain H4 Visa holders, whose spouse on H1B have satisfies one of the below two :

  1. Have an approved I-140, which is the immigration petition for foreign citizens to get Green Card or Permanent Residency in USA.
  2. Have H1B visa status extended for the spouse beyond 6 years under AC21 Act, which allows H1B holders seeking Green Card to work and stay in USA beyond 6 years, if their Green Card or Permanent Residency Application is Pending.

As of today, you can file for H4 EAD, if you satisfy any of the above two conditions. But, this could change in the future as there is a lawsuit going on to remove H4 EAD along with DHS having a rulemaking in process to remove H4 EAD.  Check H4 EAD Rule Removal – Lawsuit, Court Updates 

Documents Checklist for H4 EAD

You need the below documents and information with you, to file H4 EAD with USCIS.

  • H4 EAD Fee : H4 EAD Application Fee check for $410 payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.  You can also money order, personal check or cashier’s check to pay for the fee. If you are filing at USCIS Lockbox facility, you can use credit as well using the form G-1450 authorizing the credit card transactions. No short forms like USCIS are allowed on check, you need to put in full name of USCIS as specified.
  • EAD Application form:  Completed form I-765, which is the application for Employment Authorization.
  • (Optional)  e-Notification form : If you want to get electronic notifications for your application, you can use form G-1145. You can use this facility only, if you are filing your application at an USCIS Lockbox Facility.
  • Copies of H4 Visa holder’s Govt. issued Photo Identity : Not all of the below are required, you can submit one or more.
    • Copy of H4 visa holder’s passport ( Front, Back )
    • Copy of H4 Visa Stamp page from passport ( if available)
    • (optional) Copy of Birth Certificate with photo in it.
    • If you are applying for H4 Renewal, your previous EAD Card copy front and back.
    • National identity card from your home country like Voter cards, Aadhar Card ( for Indians)
  • Current H4 Visa Status Proofs
    • Copy of the most recent I-797A approval form, which is the H4 Approval Notice from USCIS. If you do not have copy of H4 approval, because you took direct H4 stamping and entered US, then you submit only the I-94 copy used to enter US, which can be printed online.
    • Copy of I-94 card or electronic copy. Read How to check and Print I-94 Online on DHS Website
  • H4 EAD Eligibility Documents : You need to submit H4 EAD eligibility documents of your spouse such as below.
    • Copy of primary H1B Holder’s I-140  I-797 Approval Notice
    • If your employer has not shared this document, you can use USCIS FOIA to request your I-140 information and attach the same with the H4 EAD application.
    • OR Approved copy of H1B Visa beyond 6 Years under AC21.
  • H4 – H1B Relationship Documents : 
    • You need to submit marriage certificate to prove the relationship with H1B Holder. If it is not in English, you need to get it translated to English by certified translator.
  • H1B Spouse Documents : You can submit below additional H1B spouse’s documents as supporting information
    • Copy of my H1B holders passport
  • Photos : 2 color passport photos ( 2×2 inches passport photos ) taken in the last 30 days. You should write your Name, I-94 number on the back of the photo for identification purposes. If pen does not work, use a pencil.
  • Additional Supporting Documents : 
    • Copy of my ITIN number ( Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) of H4 Holder.

Translation of Submitted Documents for H4 EAD :

If you submit any documents like Birth Certificate or National ID as Government issued photo ID or marriage certificate in a foreign language ( other than English), then you need to submit full English translation along with the translator’s certification that says that the translation is complete and accurate.

Process to Apply for H4 EAD

If you qualify for H4 EAD, you need to follow the below process. All the H4 Visa holders, who qualify for this need to do is :

Step 1 : Complete form I-765  – Application for Employment Authorization

You should download the latest form I-765 from USCIS website, along with its instructions, complete the form. Below are some common application completion tips by section of the application:

  • Part 1. Reason for Applying :
    •  : Question 1: If you are applying for new application for EAD, you would select 1.a., if you are applying for renewal of H4 EAD, you would select the corresponding box 1.c. Check below screenshots. If you have lost the EAD card, then you select 1.b.
    • H4 EAD New Application i-765 - Question 1 - Reason for ApplyingH4 EAD Renewal Application i-765 - Question 1 - Reason for Applying
  • Part 2 : Information about you
    • Question 2  : If you have other names like different name before marriage or you had different spellings or anything, you should mention it here.
    • Question 8 : Usually most of the H4 EAD applicants do not have an Alien Registration number, just leave it blank.
    • Question 9  – USCIS Online Account Number for H4 EAD : If you were to file any petition electronically with USCIS in the past using their USCIS online filing system or USCIS ELIS, you would enter that number. You can find it on top of your profile page once you login to USCIS system. In general, for most of the H4 EAD applicants, they would NOT have an USCIS online account number, so just leave it blank.
    • Question 13. a : Usually you would have Social Security Number (SSN), if you were to work in US. If you have had SSN as a student in the past, or on H1B before H4 or for some other reason, you should select Yes here and enter the number in 13.b. In general for most of the H4 applicants, this would be No.
    • Question 14 : If you never had SSN and want to get one, you should select Yes here. For most of the H4 holders, this would be Yes. It is highly recommended to apply for SSN along with your H4 EAD application because, it will help you start work right away after you get your EAD. You need SSN for taxes and other purposes from employer side.
    • Question 15 : If you selected Yes for 14, then you select Yes here for USCIS to share data with SSA Office. It is important to do this.
    • Question 16, 17 : You need to fill in H4 holder’s Father and Mother’s names here, if you have checked Yes in Question 14. SSA needs your .
  • Part 2 : Information about your Last Arrival in US
    • Question 21 a  : You need to enter your I-94 number here, you can get I-94 Online on DHS website.  If you have had H4 status extended within US, then you would have it attached to your H4 approval copy of I797.
    • Question 24 : This is the Visa status that you used, when you arrived in US, specifically  that was tied to your most recent arrival into US. It varies by individual as some arrive on H4, some arrive on F1, some on H1B, etc. So, you need to make sure you enter your status accordingly. This may have changed for some after arrival. e.g : F-1 student, H-4 dependent, H-1B, etc.
    • Question 25 : This is your current visa status in US, again, for most, if may be H4, but for some they may be applying for H4 COS and also  EAD together, in that case you need to enter your current visa status.  e.g : H-4 dependent, F-1 student, etc.
  •  Part 2 : Information about your Eligibility Category
    • Question 27 : You need to enter the category of eligibility for H-4 holders based on the I-765 instructions. It is (C)(26) for H4 Holders, see below on how to fill. You leave the last parenthesis empty as it is for the sub section field.C26 filling out for question 27 answer on H4 EADHere is the reference from I-765 Instructions that says it should be (c)(26)H4 EAD Renewal Application i-765 - Question 27 - Eligibility Criteria C26
    • Question 29 – (c)(26) Eligibility Category – H1B Holder Receipt Number : You will need to enter your spouse’s (H1B holder’s) receipt number from form I-797. It looks like  EACXXXX, WACXXX.  It has to be your H1B spouse’s most recent I-797 receipt number. If you are filing H1B Extension and H4 EAD together, it will be the most recent or current approved H1B receipt number.
      • It is NOT the I-140 approval receipt number, so do not be confused.
      • Do NOT enter H4 holder’s receipt number as well.
  • Part 3 : Applicant’s Statement
    • Question 1.a. : You need to check 1.a here indicating you understand English.
    • Question 7.a : What color Pen to use to Sign USCIS H4 EAD Form ?
      • You need to sign in the box at 7.a and enter date in 7.b question. You need to use Black Ink color pen to sign the form as suggested by USCIS in their form filling tips .

Step 2 :  Package your H4 EAD Application with Supporting Documents

Once you have completed filling out the I-765 application form, you need to gather all the documents, as listed in our above documents checklist, and put them together in a package in certain order as suggested by USCIS ( first one to be on the top). Submit only copies, do NOT send originals.

  • Check or money order ( on the top)
  • Form G-1145 for e-notification ( under the check/ money order)
  • Form G-28, if attorney is filing (under the e-notification form)
  • Form I-765 application form completed and signed ( under the G-28 form or G-1145, if you are filing it yourself )
  • Supporting Documentation from the checklist ( under the completed  I-765 application form)

Do NOT use any heavy staples to put them together. USCIS recommends that you use paper clips or binder clips.  You can check USCIS form filling tips for complete guidance on how to create your application package and guidance on the same.

Step 3 : Send / Mail H4 EAD Application to correct USCIS Address

Once you have created the application package, you need to mail or post it to the correct USCIS location. The address to send  based on your Spouse’s H1B receipt number as listed below. You should check USCIS address for I-765 and look under (c)(26) to see verify, if below details have changed to be sure.

 H1B Spouse’s Receipt Number

 Address to Mail or send Post for H4 EAD

If the H1B Spouse’s  most recent Form I-797, Notice of Approval begins with EAC or LINUSCIS Dallas Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
Attn: H4
P.O. Box 660921
Dallas, TX 75266For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: H4
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
If the H1B Spouse’s  most recent Form I-797, Notice of Approval begins with WACUSCIS Phoenix Lockbox
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
Attn: H4
P.O. Box 20400
Phoenix, AZ 85036For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: H4
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Step 4 : Get Receipt of H4 EAD, USCIS Processing, Received EAD Card

H4 EAD Card Sample Document

Once you send your package to USCIS, you will get a receipt notice for the same and then they will process your EAD application. The application processing times can vary by the location it was filed. Once USCIS completes processing and approves EAD,  they will send H4 EAD Card. The card will have C26 Category listed on the card. Below is sample H4 EAD Card. 

Common FAQs on H4 EAD 

H4 EAD application and New Biometrics Requirements for Form I-539 ?

The New Biometric requirement is for H4 visa holders applying for H4 Extensions using I-539 form. The biometric requirement is not for the H4 EAD application. If you plan to apply for EAD alone based on eligibility, you do not need to do any biometrics. But, if you are filing for H1B Extension, along with that if you are filing your H4 Extension using I-539 form and also, you are concurrently filing your H4 EAD application in the same package, then you will need to do the biometrics as per new process. Again, this Biometrics process is for H4 Extension and does not have anything to do with EAD application filed by H4. Check New I-539 Form Biometrics Requirements for H4 Holders

What is the Fee for EAD Application for H4 Visa holders? Whom to Pay to ?

H4 EAD filing fee is $410 USD. You need to include the required fee of $410 USD along with your I-765 Form and supporting documentation. ( Update : Fee used to be $380 USD and the fee has been increased from 380 to 410 effective December 23, 2016. Check : https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees )

  • You can submit a check or money order that is drawn on a bank that is located in USA and payable in USD.
  • The check or money order should be payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. DO NOT use short forms like DHS or USDHS.

Can I apply for H4 EAD, back from my home country ?

No, you need to be in US and on H4 visa status to apply for EAD application.

Travel outside of US with H4 EAD pending ?

Yes, you can technically travel outside of US to any country, after filing your H4 EAD application, but USCIS recommends not to travel to handle the RFE, Receipt notices, any requests to visit application centers, etc. They say that the process could get delayed, if you get an RFE, or they need something from you. It will just delay and you will have to come back for the same. If there is no RFE or anything, you should be fine to get the H4 EAD card to your address in mail.

Travel outside of US with H4 EAD along with H4 Change of Status (COS) Pending ?

Well, this is a tricky situation and not usually recommended to travel outside of US.  The reason is USCIS will abandon your H4 Change of Status (COS) application as your I-94 details change, subsequently USCIS may also deny  H4 EAD. The recommended approach, if you have to travel is to get your H4 COS done first, then apply for H4 EAD and maybe travel after that as it is less risky and more logistics issues to deal with.

 When can you start working on EAD for H4 visa holders?

The H4 Visa holder can start working only after their I-765 form is approved by USCIS and they receive the EAD Card. You can check out many of the common  H4 Visa EAD FAQs – F1 to H4 COS, H1B to H4 COS, I-140 Revoked

How soon can you apply for H4 EAD Renewal ?

You can apply only 180 days before the expiry of your current EAD document. You cannot apply anytime before 180 days for H4 EAD.

Can my H4 EAD be filed with future effective date ?

Yes, you can apply for renewal anytime during the 180 days before your expiry of H4 EAD with a future date example, if let’s say your expiry is in July, you can apply in February for the same to have effective date for renewal in July. Your Validity of the H4 EAD will be tied to the H4 validity and H1B of your Spouse/

Where can I get Passport Photos for H4 EAD in US ? Which stores ?

You can get them at Costco, Walgreens or any of the passport photo for H4 EAD. It costs 9.99$ in Costco for 4 photos and at Walgreens it costs 14.75$ for 2 photos.

Do I need take Biometrics for H4 EAD Application ?

No, biometrics are only required for H4 application and not for H4 EAD.

Is ITIN Mandatory for applying H4 EAD ?


Can I apply H4 EAD for my under 21 Children ?

No, H4 EAD is only for Spouses, children are not eligible.

Official USCIS Steps and Process Published from the past

USCIS published some of their guidance on how to apply, including the most commonly asked FAQs, when they originally published the rule to be effective. Check out the key highlights and important points of the publication from USCIS at Summary of Guide to Apply EAD for H4 Holders, FAQs by USCIS 

If you are filing H4 EAD, we’ve built a tracker for your case to help you and everyone get overall insights from others. It is fully anonymous and has analytics. Please add your case to  H4 Visa EAD Tracker 

What was your experience filing H4 EAD ? Any  questions ?  Share your thoughts, experiences.

Reference :


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Comments ( 283 )

    1. administrator

      Did you mean to ask, you got F1 to H1B COS Done and you want to sponsor H4 ? If so, yes. You need to be on H1B to sponsor H4.

  1. Rak

    Hi, my H1B is valid until 10/2021 and my job with current employer is going to end in sept 2020. I am I-140 approved With my former employer. Now my new employer filed for my H1B transfer, but they did not file the H4 transfer for my wife yet. Lawyer said once my H1 gets approved they will file for H4 transfer. My wife has H4 EAD but has expired in sept 2018. That time We did not renew her H4 EAD since she was not supposed to work for couple of years. Now we are thinking to apply for her H4 EAD extension. Question is
    1. Is she applicable for H4 EAD renewal at this moment ?
    2. If yes then should we wait for her new H4 transfer with new employer to be approved ?
    3. Does H1B’s I-140 need to be approved with new employer or approval with old employer will work for H4 EAD renewal?

    1. administrator

      You can apply for H4 EAD using her current H4 that is valid…But, it is better to wait and do it with current employer approval, if you plan to move out the previous company.
      No, you can use the old employer I-140 approval for H4 EAD.

  2. Sandeep

    A little confusion here. As you state that “The biometric requirement is not for the H4 EAD application. If you plan to apply for EAD alone based on eligibility, you do not need to do any biometrics. But, if you are filing for H1B Extension, along with that if you are filing your H4 Extension using I-539 form and also, you are concurrently filing your H4 EAD application in the same package, then you will need to do the biometrics as per new process.”

    I am trying to understand what would be an example where only EAD is requested? Generally one would need EAD extension when EAD is expiring and that is the date when H1B (or H4) is expiring. IN that case one would always be needed to file H4 extension when requesting EAD. Am I missing something?

    1. administrator

      Many are not keen on working due to family commitments with kids…So, never applied for EAD. But, suddenly they want to start a company or work now, then they will apply for EAD. Now, the dates are out of sync, so next time they will only renew H4 as there will be time on EAD, so these are situations where EAD will be applied separately all the time.

  3. GG

    How long does it take to take h4EAD receipt? I sent G-1145 form for text confirmation as well. My packet was received on August 17th but I have not got any update yet.
    It was as stand alone H4EAD sent to Phoenix address. Any help will be appreciated.

    1. administrator

      It can take anywhere from 2 to three weeks. There are some delays with H1B Receipts, so we dont know if H4 receipts would be delayed too.

  4. Ajay

    Hi Kumar,

    I am in the process of applying H4 EAD for my spouse and having some query on that , Appreciate if you can provide your advice on this area

    – My current H1b approval is till 10/2021 , however my wife’s passport validity is till 06/2021 , considering passport validity lesser than H1b validity , do you see any impact here apart from EAD upon approval can be reduced till 06/2021 ( to match with passport expiry date)
    – considering current delay in H4 EAD processing , incase the H4 EAD application will be picked for adjudication towards end of this year or beginning 2021 , whether that will be a problem for approval as by then the passport validity will be less than 6 month


    1. administrator

      Well, I am not sure how they would process the EAD. In general, for H4 related I-94 you would get until end of the passport expiration. If you can renew your passport now and then send new details, it would be ideal…

  5. Andy

    my wife’s H4 EAD expired in 20 January 2020, around 4 months back. We could not file for her H4 EAD renewal due to some reason and also she was not working at that point of time. Now we want to file for her H4 EAD.. will I need to file it as a renewal or New application for employment?

      1. Andy

        thanks Kumar – one follow-up question. I am submitting form I765 and it has 7 pages. There is nothing to fill from page 5 to page 7. Do we still have to print them and include them in our package?

  6. Sandeep

    Online form on USICS website show Expires 05/31/2020, https://www.uscis.gov/i-765

    Can we use this Form or wait for New Forms?

    1. administrator

      Usually they update it, for some reason, it seems they have not. Try calling USCIS help desk and get clarification. It is better to call and clarify, before you fill it out.

        1. administrator

          It is not posted yet, when I checked earlier today. Check phone number at : https://www.uscis.gov/contactcenter , it is under live assistance.

  7. Deep

    Hi Kumar,

    In Page 7, first name and last name columns (1a and 1b) in Part 6 in the form i765 get filled automatically when we fill first name and last name in (1a and 1b) in Part 2. Since the names get filled automatically in Part 6, I am unable to remove them.

    Is it okay to leave it as it is and send or do I need to separately print an empty page of page 7 and send that?


    1. administrator

      Don’t worry, it is fine. It is meant to work like that. It is fine to leave it like that. The intention for them to give it, if you have to fill more additional information you can use the same copies of page 7. In your case, there is no need. Just ignore and attach the empty one with your name on it.

      1. Deep

        Thank you, Kumar.

        I also have one more question. In my case H1 extension got approved, but the associated H4 extension is still pending due to suspension of biometrics. I am filing a stand alone H4 EAD application now.

        Do I need call out the pending H4 extension and the associated receipt number anywhere in i765? Like mention that in Part 6 as an additional information for question 21a where we specify i94 with some description like ‘Extension of H4 status pending with this receipt number – EACxxx’, I am also planning to attach the receipt of H4 extension with the application.

        I am bit worried that if pending H4 extension is not mentioned anywhere in i765, USCIS may not automatically link it to the pending H4 application and might issue RFE asking for H4 approval to proceed further. Off late, USCIS seems to be interested in delaying H4 EAD applications by all possible means.

        1. administrator

          Yes, you should indicate that and attach the H4 Receipt notice. This will definitely help them adjudicate the case.
          Usually, if they cannot find the case, they will issue RFE to attach the H4 approval. Do not worry.
          USCIS has been delaying this for over a year now, I have seen many lose jobs due to delays…it is sad..

  8. Gaurav K

    Thank you for all great information. I have a question as below

    My H1B and wife’s H4 is pending for extension already. My I140 recently got approved, so planning to file H4 EAD for my wife.

    Is it fine to file H4 EAD while H1 and H4 in pending state or should I wait to get it approve?

  9. Confuse_status

    Hi, Could you please advice,
    I’m preparing I-485 documents under the category EB3 other countries.
    Last month is says current and today says 01JAN19.
    can I still submit my application or have to wait?

    1. administrator

      SRC is the Texas Service Center. Older name for it was Southern Regional Center. You may send it to them. But, I suggest you call customer service and validate it before you send to be sure.

    2. Lakshmi

      Hi Syam,
      I’m also in same situation. My Spouse H1B receipt number starts with SRC. What is the address to send EAD application if the H1-B receipt number starts with “SRC”? – I hope you must get an answer at this time. Please share it with us.

  10. P_K

    Hello, Thanks for providing great information.
    I am on H1b and filing for extension. My wife on H4 and has EAD which also needs renewed. I have my i-140 approved. I know we can file all forms i-129, i-539, i-765 together.
    My question is for Q29 of i-765, do we just just enter the same i-797 receipt number as in our last i-765 form as it has not changed since then?


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