H-4 Status for Dependent Family Members

Once you have been granted H-1B status, your spouse and children (under 21) will normally be eligible for H-4 dependent status. H-4 status dependents cannot be employed in the US, but they are allowed to attend school.

Please be aware that any information provided on MUSC's website regarding H-4 dependents is simply general information and does not constitute legal advice. MUSC cannot assist you or your dependents with applying for an H-4 visa or completing USCIS Form I-539 and preparing the application requesting a change of status to H-4 or extension of H-4 status.

Applying for an H-4 Visa at a US Consulate

After your H-1B petition has been approved, your dependents may apply for H-4 visas at a US embassy/consulate abroad. You should refer to the website of the consulate where your dependents will apply for more information on the visa application process and the documents required for an H-4 visa.

Applying for a Change of Status to H-4 or Extension of H-4 Status

If your dependents are in the United States, your dependents can request a change of status to H-4 or extension of H-4 status by completing USCIS Form I-539 Application to Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status. You are responsible for paying the filing fees for the I-539 application. You must also provide certain supporting documents along with the I-539 form (copies of passport, visa, I-94, current or previous immigration documents, etc). Please carefully read the Form I-539 instructions provided on the USCIS website for information on how to complete form I-539 and how to correctly issue checks for the fees.

Tips for completing USCIS Form I-539:

  • If you (the H-1B beneficiary) are completing the form on behalf of a dependent spouse or child, keep in mind that you will be entering your dependent’s information in the form, not your information.
  • The US mailing address that you enter in Part 1 must be an address where you can receive mail for the next several months. This is the address that USCIS will use to send notices for this case.
  • Part 3, question 1 – The date should match the requested end date of your H-1B status. If you are unsure about this date, contact CGH.
  • Part 4 – Pay special attention to the questions that require you to provide additional details in Part 8 Additional Information. Be very detailed and clear
  • Thoroughly review the I-539 instructions provided on the USCIS website while completing and reviewing the form.

You have two options for submitting the I-539 application (Form I-539, supporting documents and checks for the fees) to USCIS:

  1. Submit along with the H-1B petition. The I-539 application can be submitted to USCIS along with MUSC's H-1B petition.
  2. Submit separately to USCIS. The I-539 application can be submitted to USCIS after your H-1B petition has been received by USCIS. The USCIS receipt number for your pending H-1B petition must be entered in Part 3, question 3b of the I-539 form.

If you want the I-539 application to be submitted along with MUSC's H-1B petition (option 1), you must do the following:

  • Sign the H-4 Statement of Understanding (PDF) and upload it in your Terra Dotta portal
  • Upload copies of supporting documents for each dependent in your Terra Dotta portal
  • Send the original completed and signed Form I-539 form and filing fee checks to either CGH or Sturm & Cont (addresses below)
    • If you are not sure which office is processing your H-1B petition (Center for Global Health or Sturm & Cont), contact CGH to verify


MUSC Center for Global Health
Attn: Hannah Casagrande
45 Courtenay Drive MSC 203
4th Floor Room SS439
Charleston, SC 29425

Sturm & Cont, PA
Attn: Allison Strange
159 Hall Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302


As indicated above, MUSC cannot assist you with completing or reviewing the Form I-539 for your dependent family members. Furthermore, MUSC is not responsible for the outcome of the I-539 application. The option to submit the I-539 along with MUSC's H-1B petition is a courtesy provided to you, but this does not indicate that MUSC will be assisting you with the actual I-539 application.

Biometric Services

In March 2019, USCIS instituted a new rule that requires all I-539 applicants and co-applicants to pay a biometric services fee and complete a biometric services appointment. Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice from USCIS. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.

More information on biometric services appointments can be found on the USCIS website.