H4 EAD application process and documents - Complete guide

If you are looking for H4 EAD application process and documentation, you have come to the right place. Applying for EAD and Social Security Number (SSN) can be a long a process. This guide is to cover the steps for obtaining EAD work permit. H4-EAD-sample

Heads up, keep your immigration documents, checkbooks ready. You may also have to print/copy/fill certain documents and also you will need two passport sized photographs.

With that, let’s proceed to the actual steps,

Table of Contents

H4 EAD Eligibility

Principal H1b non-immigrant should be a primary beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 Immigration petition. H4 dependent spouses of such individuals are eligible to apply for EAD.

Even if you are currently not on H4 visa, but planning to change the status from other visa types you may be eligible. For example, H1 to H4 EAD applications can be concurrently applied. Similarly, USCIS also allows concurrent filing of F1 to H4 EAD change of status.

H4 EAD premium processing

H4 EAD application doesn’t have premium processing on it’s own. But, if your primary H1b spouse is due for H1b extension, then H4 EAD can also be included with that application. If such H1b extension petitions are upgraded to premium processing, then as a courtesy USCIS also approves EAD within the premium time frame.

H4 EAD Application fee

$410 as of January 2017 (It used to be $380 earlier). Check the latest USCIS filing fees Make a cashier’s check or personal check, payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”. No online payments are available at this point.

Form I-765

You would have to fill the form I-765 for requesting EAD. Make sure all the information are clear and correct. Importantly, the H4 applicant should sign the form. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of the completed form for own records.

USCIS also offers a service to notify you electronically (email, text), when your form I-765 is accepted at their facility. This is an optional service. But if you want to use it then you would have to include the completed form G-1145.

Pay attention

To avoid unnecessary delays, make sure the form is signed. And it should also be accompanied by the correct fee. USCIS will reject the application in either case. And you will have to refile with the issues fixed.

H4 EAD Documents checklist

Find printer friendly H4 EAD documents checklist

Documents from H4 visa holder
  1. Check for $410, payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”
  2. Two identical 2x2-inch color passport-style photo
  3. Proof of H4 status
  4. Identification document with photo
    • A copy of recent EAD (If available)
    • A copy of passport with biometric information (example: first and last page) and the visa page (if present)
    • A copy of birth certificate with photo ID
    • A copy of national photo ID
  5. A copy of marriage certificate
  6. Completed Form I-765
    • Write (c)(26) for eligibility criteria
  7. Primary H1 visa holder document: A copy of approved I-140 (I-797 approval notice). Request from your Employer or file a FOIA if not available
  8. E-notification (optional): Completed form G-1145

H4 EAD filing address

Physical filing address varies according to the H1b principal’s I-797 approval notice. Also, the address given here are only for making a stand alone EAD card. If your making an EAD application in addition to a primary purpose like H4 extension or chage of status then you would send everything to the appropriate address for the primary application.

If the receipt number begins with EAC or LIN, then you would apply to USCIS Dallas lockbox.
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: H4
P.O. Box 660921
Dallas, TX 75266

For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS):

USCIS
Attn: H4
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If the receipt number begins with WAC, then you would apply to USCIS Phoenix lockbox.
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) First-Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries:

USCIS
Attn: H4
P.O. Box 20400
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS):

USCIS
Attn: H4
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

H4 EAD approval times

Upon receiving the form, USCIS checks the form for completeness and accompanied evidences. The application will be rejected for any deficiency. Until USCIS accepts the application, the form is not considered properly filed.

Approval times vary depending on the work load received by USCIS. USCIS is required to make a decision of the application within 90 days. Depending on which center you apply, you can check USCIS current processing times. In addition, USCIS allows to request SR once the application is pending for 75 days or more.

If you have asked for e-Notification of H4 EAD application, then you would get a receipt number in a message like below (just a sample)


"On November 27, 2016, we received your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization , Receipt Number EACXXXXXXXXX,
and sent you the receipt notice that describes how we will process your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice. 
If you do not receive your receipt notice by December 26, 2016, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283"     

H4 EAD status

Once you get the receipt number, H4 EAD status can be checked on USCIS site.

Pending H4 EAD application don’t give any valid status for employment purposes. You are authorized to work only after the application is approved and only through the expiry date. Usually the EAD expiry date is tied to the H4 visa expiry. H4 EAD renewal can be started no sooner than 120 days prior to expiry.

H4 applicant also need to apply for Social Security Number (SSN) for getting back to work. SSN can be applied only after receiving the EAD card. And EAD approval notices cannot be used to apply SSN.


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H4 EAD documents - complete checklist

This is the document checklist for H4 EAD application process

H4 EAD Documents checklist

Documents from H4 visa holder
  1. Check for $410, payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”
  2. Two identical 2x2-inch color passport-style photo
  3. Proof of H4 status
  4. Identification document with photo
    • A copy of recent EAD (If available)
    • A copy of passport with biometric information (example: first and last page) and the visa page (if present)
    • A copy of birth certificate with photo ID
    • A copy of national photo ID
  5. A copy of marriage certificate
  6. Completed Form I-765
    • Write (c)(26) for eligibility criteria
  7. Primary H1 visa holder document: A copy of approved I-140 (I-797 approval notice). Request from your Employer or file a FOIA if not available
  8. E-notification (optional): Completed form G-1145

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H1b vs L1 visa

L1 vs H1b The graph is plotted using publicly released USCIS data. Assumes 25% of dependents enter the workforce.


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