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H4 to H1 Conversion Process

The H4 visa was designed to allow dependent, immediate family members of H1B workers to come to the United States. Before the new H4 EAD rule became effective in May of 2015, H4 visa holders were only allowed to attend school in the U.S. and could not hold a job. However, even though you may now apply for work authorization with an H4 visa, there are still other reasons you may want to convert to H1B status.

In order to complete the H4 to H1 conversion process, there are a few steps you must follow. In the information below, we will go through these steps and help you to start on a path toward your H14 to H1 change of status.

H4 to H1 Conversion Process Eligibility:

In order to qualify for the H4 to H1 conversion process, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • You previously applied for an H1B visa and you were selected in the H1B lottery.
  • You have a job offer from an H1B employer who is exempt from the H1B cap. Examples of such employers are:
    • Non-profit institutions for higher education
    • Non-profit institution for government research
  • You have an offer of employment from an H1B employer and you have been chosen in the H1B visa lottery.

H4 to H1 Conversion Process Requirements:

When applying for an H4 to H1B change of status, you will need to provide several documents along with your application. These documents include:

  • Form I-539 (Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status)
  • Other supporting documents including:
    • Employment offer letter
    • Labor condition approval (LCA)
    • Letter of support

In addition to these documents, you will also need to provide all mandatory documents for the H1B visa:

  • A valid passport
  • Any and all expired passports
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page (the Visa Application Center must stamp this document)
  • Visa application payment receipt
  • Letter for visa interview appointment
  • Notice of Action I-797

Requirements for the H1B Sponsoring Employer:

Provided you meet the requirements above, you may apply for H4 to H1B change of status. It should be noted that your intended employer will have to file this change of status petition on your behalf. When filing the petition, they will be required to submit the following evidence: 

  • Job title and description
  • Proposed salary
  • Federal Tax ID number
  • Minimum requirements for the position
  • Name and title the person filing the petition
  • Name and address of the company
  • Brochures and other informational resources about the company
  • Completed visa filing forms and fees

Restrictions of the H1B visa: 

If you are approved for H4 to H1B change of status, there are some restrictions for the H1B visa that you should be aware of:

  • You cannot claim discrimination if your U.S. employer decides to withdraw your employment and replace you with a qualified U.S. employee.
  • You cannot begin working until your H1B work authorization is approved.
  • Including the allowable amount of extensions, you may stay in the U.S. with an H1B visa for a maximum of six years.
  • You can only work for whichever employer is listed on your H1B petition. Should you desire to change employers, you will need to file a new H1B petition and have it approved prior to your last day of employment with your original employer.


Now that you understand the requirements of the H4 to H1 conversion process, you should be able to get started with your change of status. However, there are sometimes complications along the way which may require legal guidance. For more information on the H4 to H1 conversion process, contact the experts at Katz Law Office Ltd. today for a free consultation.

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