ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Immigration Daily: the news source for legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers

Home Page

Advanced search


Immigration Daily

Archives

Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board

Resources

Blogs

Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation

Attorney2Attorney

CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network

EB-5

Chinese Immig. Daily

About ILW.COM

Connect to us

Make us Homepage

Questions/Comments


SUBSCRIBE

Immigration Daily

 

Chinese Immig. Daily



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free
information!

Copyright
©1995-
ILW.COM,
American
Immigration LLC.

Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here:



< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Citizenship books & videos

Can Spouses and Children of Nonimmigrants Work in the US?
by Cyrus D. Mehta

Spouses and children of most temporary visa holders in the United States cannot avail of the same benefits as the principal visa holder. Take the example of an Indian computer programmer working in the United States on a nonimmigrant H-1B visa. He returns to India and marries a person who is professionally extremely active. Upon marriage, she obtains the dependent H-4 visa and accompanies her husband to the United States.

Although the H-4 visa is issued immediately, she realizes that her dependent status does not allow her to work in the U.S. Because of her inability to work, she remains confined at home in an isolated American suburb with little or no intellectual stimuli. Many such marriages can break down due to frustrations arising out of the limited scope of a dependent visa.

Furthermore, dependent children of a temporary visa holder can face similar obstacles. Although dependents can study, they would not be able to work like their American counterparts in the summer or take up part-time jobs. Unlike a dependent spouse who might be able to ultimately secure an independent H-1B visa, it would be difficult for a child not yet a graduate to do the same. A child can only remain on the dependent visa until the age of 21.

Restrictions on the principal's visa automatically pass on to the dependents. A typical example is a physician who is in the United States on a J-1 visa. The J-1 visa holder is subject to a two year home country requirement before he or she can change visa status in the United States. The J-2 spouse is also similarly subject to the two year home country requirements, unless the principal visa holder applies for and obtains a waiver of the two year home country requirement.

Often times, dependent spouses and children can fall out of status for no fault of their own. The principal alien can lose status if he or she stops working for the intended employer or drops out of school. As a result, the dependent spouse and children also cease to remain in status.

Below is a compilation of the scope of commonly utilized dependent visas.

DEPENDENTS OF SPECIALTY OCCUPATION WORKERS - H-4 VISA

The H-4 visa is issued to dependents of H-1B visa holders. The H-1B visa permits foreign professionals to work in the United States with a specific employer.

Limitations: The visa is valid for only six years. Time spent as a dependent on the H-4 visa would count towards the six years even if the spouse switched to an H-1B visa or L-1A/L-1B visa. The visa is also employer specific. Termination of employment will result in loss of status for the principal and dependent.

Employment: Not authorized, unless dependents have an independent basis for work authorization.

Study: Permitted, but work permission generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFEREES - L-2 VISA

An L-2 visa is issued to a dependent of an L-1A or L-1B visa. The L visa allows executives and managers (L-1A) or specialized knowledge employees (L-1B) of a foreign company to transfer to a branch or subsidiary in the United States. The maximum time permitted on the L-1A visa is seven years while the maximum time on the L-1B visa is five years.

Limitations: Time spent by the L-2 dependent will count towards the seven or five year limit, even if the dependent subsequently converts status to an L-1A/L-1B visa or H-1B visa. This visa is also specific to employment with the branch/subsidiary of the foreign company.

Employment: Not authorized, unless dependents have an independent basis for work authorization.

Study: Permitted, but work authorization generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF EXCHANGE VISITORS - J-2 VISA

The J-2 visa is issued to dependents of a J-1 visa holder. The J-1 visa is generally granted to individuals who enter the U.S. on exchange programs. It is also issued to foreign medical graduates pursuing residency programs in the U.S.

Limitations: Most J-1 visa holders are subject to a two year home country requirement before they can change status. J-2 dependents are also subject to the same requirement. A waiver of the two years home country requirement may be obtained if there is a termination of marriage between the dependent spouse and the principal J-1 visa holder.

Employment: The spouses and minor children of an exchange visitor will be permitted to accept employment only if the income from such employment is to be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things, but not if it is needed to support the principal alien.

Study: Permitted, but work permission generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF ARTISTS AND ENTERTAINERS - O-3 AND P-4 VISAS

These visas are issued to dependents of O-1 and O-2 as well as P-1, P-2 and P-3 visa holders. They facilitate the entry of artists, entertainers, athletes or motion picture personnel into the U.S.

Limitations: Valid only for the duration of the event, project or specific employment.

Employment: Not authorized, unless dependents have an independent basis for work authorization.

Study: Permitted, but work authorization generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF TREATY, TRADERS AND INVESTORS - E VISA

The E visa is granted to aliens who enter the United States as traders (E-1) or investors (E-2) from certain countries which have a treaty with the United States. The same type of classification is accorded to dependents.

Limitations: An individual can hold an E visa indefinitely so long as he or she continues to invest or trade in the United States.

Employment: The spouse and children are not authorized to work. However, the INS has stated that those who take up a job will not be deemed to have violated status and no action will be taken for their departure so long as the principal E visa holder maintains status. Paradoxically, however, this employment will still be deemed unauthorized and it will render the dependent ineligible for adjustment to permanent residence and for change of status in the future. It would not disqualify the dependents from obtaining resident status or another nonimmigrant classification via the visa route overseas.

Study: Permitted, but work permission generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF FOREIGN STUDENTS - F-2 VISA

The F-2 visa is issued to dependents of foreign students on an F-1 visa.

Limitations: Dependents remain in status so long as the student continues to remain a full time student.

Employment: Not authorized, unless dependents have an independent basis for work authorization.

Study: Permitted, but work permission generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.

DEPENDENTS OF DIPLOMATS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS - A AND G VISAS

A visa classification is issued to duly accredited foreign diplomatic personnel, full time employees of foreign diplomatic missions or consular posts. G visa classification is accorded to people who are employed at international organizations within the United States. Their dependents are also issued similar classifications.

Limitations: Dependents remain in status so long as the principal visa holder remains with the diplomatic post or organization.

Employment: Dependents of most A and G classifications can apply to the INS for work permission upon the State Department issuing a favorable recommendation

Study: Permitted, but work permission generally accorded to F-1 students is not authorized.


About The Author

Cyrus Mehta, a graduate of Cambrdige University and Columbia Law School, practices immigration law in New York City. He is Vice Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's National Labor Department Liaison Committee, trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation and recipient of the Joseph Minsky Young Lawyers Award. He is also Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He frequently lectures on various immigration subjects at legal seminars, workshops and universities, and may be contacted at 212-686-1581 or info@cyrusmehta.com. His website is www.cyrumsmehta.com


• Jobs for immigrants    • Immigration information    • Track your case online   
• Find a lawyer    • Immigrant's shop   

Share this page with a friend Share this page


Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here: