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H1B, H4 and H4 EAD Concurrent Filing, Premium Processing and Processing Time

H1B, H4, and H4 EAD concurrent filing or H4 approval with H1 premium processing. Since January 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has allowed H1B dependents, H4 visa holders, to apply for their H4 EADs (form I-765) and H4 visa applications concurrently with the H1B application (I-129) under the Edakunni Settlement.


This means that H4 visa holders can now apply for both their H4 visa and H4 EAD at the same time as the primary H1B petition. This change significantly reduced H4 EAD processing time to less than a month, allowing H-4 visa holders to start working in the US more quickly.


You can also file a status change to H4 and EAD together (without H1B), also known as concurrent filing. You can read this in detail here: H4 COS and EAD concurrent filing.



Edakunni settlement applies to L2 dependents as well, but these days L2 visa holders don't require EAD to work. You can read about L2S work authorization in more detail here.


Between 2015 and January 2023, the process for obtaining an H4 visa and an H4 EAD was a two-step process.


  1. First, the H4 applicants would have to apply for an H4 visa.

  2. Once they receive the H4 visa, they can apply for an H4 EAD.

The two-step process could take several months and often caused significant delays for H4 visa holders who wanted to start working in the US. When H4 and H4 EAD applications are filed separately, the H4 processing time to get both applications approved could take up to 6 to 11 months, depending on the service center backlog, and sometimes even longer.


Table of Contents: H1B, H4 and H4 EAD Concurrent Filing and Processing Times



Edakunni Settlement

As per the Edakunni Settlement, USCIS will concurrently adjudicate H4 and H4 EAD applications with the principal's H1B (I-129) petition if they are filed together as a bundle.


The term "Bundle" refers to the processing by USCIS of multiple forms together as a package. The term "properly filed together" means packaged together and filed at the same time and in the same location, consistent with USCIS form instructions.


If the H4 and H4 EAD applications were submitted separately or after the principal's H1B petition, the Edakunni settlement will not apply to your case. Reference: Forbes




H4 EAD Processing Time

As of Jul 15, 2024, H4 EAD processing time for 80% of cases is 5 to 10 months, depending on which service center handles your H4 EAD request. This processing time is specifically for H4 EAD standalone applications, which are not filed with H4 COS (I-539) application.


Currently, four service centers process H4 EAD applications and these are their H4 EAD processing times. We recommend you visit this link for more detailed information on the latest I-765 processing times.




You can also apply for H4 EAD and the H4 status change (I-539) concurrently. Its processing time is discussed separately in the upcoming section.


If you have a valid reason, you can also request expedited requests to speed up the EAD process.



Service Center Codes

You can find the service center by the state from where you are applying or by the application receipt number. Or, you can refer to the first three letters of your H4 EAD application receipt number.


  • WAC – Western Adjudication Center (California Service Center)

  • SRC – Southern Regional Center (Texas Service Center)

  • LIN – Lincoln Service Center (Nebraska Service Center)

  • EAC – Eastern Adjudication Center (Vermont Service Center)


H4 EAD Premium Processing

As of Jul 2024, there is no H4 EAD premium processing service offered by USCIS. However, EAD premium processing is available for certain F-1 visa categories including (C)(3)(A), (C)(3)(B), or (C)(3)(C), with a premium processing fee of $1,685 and processing time of 30 days.


It's important to note that H4 EAD does not fall within these eligible categories. The category for H4 EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is (C)(26) on the I-765 form.


However, you can still get H4 EAD within 15 days if your employer properly files an H1B extension/transfer (I-129) with premium processing along with an H4 visa application and H4 EAD, all bundled together as per Edakunni Settlement explained earlier.



You need to file the H1B extension/or transfer, H4 (COS), and H4 EAD concurrently with H1B (I-129) premium processing in the same package at the same time, in the same location, and generally, all three requests (H1B, H4, and H4 EAD) should be approved within 15 days if there is no RFE, and usually, H4 EAD is dispatched within 10 days. The fee for Form I-129 premium processing is $2,805.


H4 EAD Eligibility

It is important to note that not all H4 visa holders are eligible for an H4 EAD. To be eligible for H4 EAD, the H-4 visa holder's spouse must have a valid H1B status and either:


  • Have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or

  • They are in the sixth year of their H1B status and have a pending Form I-140.

  • Read more.


The H4 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows spouses and dependent children (under 21) of H1B visa holders to enter and stay in the United States.

While H4 visa holders are not allowed to work in the US directly, they can apply for work authorization through the H4 EAD application under (c)(26) category.


It's important to note that you cannot apply for H4 EAD from outside the US. You must be physically present in the US to submit the H4 EAD application.




H1, H4 and H4 EAD Concurrent Filing

Note that you can not file an H1B petition yourself so the following steps apply only when your (H1B) employer is willing to file an H1B extension/amendment/transfer (I-129), H4 visa (COS, I-539), and H4 EAD (I-765) together.

On January 25, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed the practice of adjudicating Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) for H-4 and L-2 derivatives in conjunction with the underlying I-129 for the principal applicant, allowing for concurrent filings.
  • The initial step involves preparing the I-129 application for the primary H1B visa holder, whether it's a renewal, amendment, or transfer.


  • If the H-1B visa holder's dependents are also seeking H-4 visas, their change of status applications (I-539) should be filed concurrently with the primary H1B application (applying within the US). If dependents are coming from India, it would be a DS-160 form, not a change of status.


  • Additionally, the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, should be submitted together with the H-4 visa application. This form is used to apply for an H-4 EAD. Ensure that you include the required filing fees and other supporting documentation, such as a copy of their passport, I-94, and marriage certificate, which are similar to the documents needed when applying for H4 EAD for the first time.


  • USCIS will process both the H-1B (I-129) and H-4 visa (I-539) applications simultaneously. If the H-4 change of status is approved without any RFEs, USCIS will then proceed to process the H-4 EAD (I-765) application.


  • Upon approval of the H-4 EAD application, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the H-4 visa holder. The H-4 EAD is typically valid for the same duration as the H-4 visa.




H4 EAD Expedite Request

An H4 EAD expedited request is a formal appeal submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accelerate the processing of an H4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) application. There are no fees for this request. You can read about how to expedite the H4 EAD application in detail here.


The expedited request is different from USCIS premium processing for which you pay an upfront fee. Expedite requests are typically made in cases of urgent humanitarian circumstances or severe financial loss to the applicant or their employer. You can read about the reasons to expedite here.


The expedited request must be supported by strong evidence and documentation, clearly proving the urgency and necessity for an expedited request. You can find the expedited request sample letters here.


USCIS evaluates each request on a case-by-case basis and may approve the expedited request if the provided evidence meets the criteria for expedited processing.


However, it is essential to note that expediting the H4 EAD application is not guaranteed, and USCIS has the sole discretion to approve or deny the request based on the merits of each case.



Change of Status to H4 Processing Time

As of Jul 15, 2024, if you are applying for a change of status to H4 within the United States using Form I-539, the processing time is 3.5 to 8 months for 80% of the cases. The following table is refreshed daily from the USCIS website.




For H4 EAD applied with the change of status, the processing time is between 3.5 to 5.5 months for 80% of the cases. You can bookmark ⭐ or save this page as this table frequently updates based on USCIS data.





H4 Visa Processing Time (DS-160)

If you are applying for an H4 visa for your dependent's first time entering the US, then similar to a B2 tourist visa, you will need to fill out the DS-160 form. The good news is that the interview wait time for an H4 visa interview is much shorter than that for a B2 tourist visa.


H4 visa processing time for applications based on DS-160 (first visit to the US) can range from 2 to 6 weeks depending upon how quickly you get the appointment. Below are the appointment wait times for the H visa type in various cities in India:




FAQs on H4 EAD Concurrent Filing Processing Time

How does Edakunni Settlement affect H4 and EAD premium processing?

The Edakunni Settlement means that if you applied for H4 (COS, I-539) and H4 EAD (I-765) along with the primary H-1B application (I-129), USCIS will review them together.


But if you filed H4 and H4 EAD separately or after the H-1B, this rule doesn't apply. It's a good idea to submit all the applications together under I-129 premium processing to get the benefit of this rule.


Can I work for any employer without a sponsorship requirement or start a business with my H4 EAD?

With an H-4 EAD, you have the freedom to work for any employer in the US in a job that's legally allowed. Starting a business with H4 & H4 EAD is possible. However, it won't change your status. You're subject to H-4 restrictions, including not working without H-4 EAD.


Do H4 and H4 EAD get approved together?

No. First USCIS adjudicates the H4 application, once the H4 application is approved H4 EAD will be processed. While they are related, approval of the first does not guarantee approval of the other.


Can I apply for H4 and EAD at the same time?

Yes, you can file H4 and EAD simultaneously if you are converting from another visa to an H4 visa within the US via a change of status (I-539).


No, you cannot apply together if you are applying from outside the US. You have to get an H4 visa first and be physically present in the US to apply for H4 EAD.


Can you apply for H4 and EAD together?

No if applying outside the US, and yes if applying within the US.


How much is the H4 processing time with the H1B premium under the Edakunni Settlement?

Processing time is 15 days, with a fee of $2,805, which is used for I-129 premium processing.


What is the average H4 visa processing time?

The H4 visa processing time for applications based on DS-160 (for the first entry into the US) can vary from 2 to 6 weeks. However, if you are applying for a change of status (Form I-539) within the US, it is taking 3.5 to 8 months for 80% of cases, as of Jul 2024.


Alternatively, if you opt for concurrent filing with an H1B petition under premium processing, the H4 processing time will be significantly reduced (Edakunni Settlement).


Is it possible to do an H4 extension with H1B premium processing?

Yes. You can file an H4 extension with the primary H1B application under premium processing.


Is H4 change of status premium processing available?

No, you can not apply for a change of status (Form I-539) to H4 using premium processing.


Is there H4 EAD premium processing?

No, there is no H4 EAD premium processing but you can submit an expedited request for H4 EAD. The EAD premium processing option is only available for F1 visa categories.


Can H4 EAD be filed online?

No, the c(26) category which is used for filing H4 EAD is not eligible for submitting the I-765 form online for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) application.


What is the current H4 to EAD processing time?

As of Jul 2024, the change of status to H4 with EAD processing time is 3.5 to 5.5 months, you can read about H4 COS and EAD concurrent filing in detail here.


Can the H1B amendment used for H1B, H4, and EAD concurrent filing?

Yes, an H-1B amendment can be used for concurrent filing of H-1B, H-4, and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications.


I don't have a pending H1B extension or transfer. What should I do in that case?

If there are significant changes in your employment details, such as a promotion, change in role, or change in duties, you can apply for an H1B amendment, which will update the LCA and Form I-129. Along with the H1B amendment, you can file H4 and EAD requests as well as a bundle.



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23 Comments


Arya Srivastava
Arya Srivastava
2 days ago

I'm currently on H1b filing for an amendment. My wife is in India. She currently doesn't have any visa. 1. Can i file H1b (amendment), H4 (first time not COS) and H4 EAD together in this case and apply for premium processing. i-94 is required to file for H4 EAD, so i'm not sure how will this work as she hasn't been to US. 2. Can i first file her H4 separately get it approved ask her to fly to US, generate i94. Then file ONLY H1b and H4 EAD together in premium processing ?

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Hina Singh
Hina Singh
4 hours ago
Replying to

Hi Arya, you cannot apply for an EAD for your wife if she is in India. She has to be physically present in US to apply for EAD. So, It would be best to come to the US first on an H4 visa and then apply for an amendment (update H1B, update H4, and new EAD) all three together through premium processing. I would suggest talking to your employer as well (if they can support). Thanks.

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I am in the process of applying to h1b extension. my wife is currently on F1. my Extension would start from June. if I apply for H1 extension + COS F1 to H4 + H4 EAD in premium procession then will she get he H4 and EAD from the day of approval or it will start ( both H4 and EAD from) June for three years? Also if it will start from day extension starts until then she would be in F1 visa.


( Also to note she was on H4 (stamped) before which was valid until June this year. then last year we went to India and got F1 stamping. I hope change in visa would cancel the existing…


Like
Replying to

Hello Sandesh, it is advisable to consult with your employer (lawyer) who is managing your extension, considering the complexity of your situation.


From my understanding, once the Change of Status (COS) from F1 to H4 is approved, your wife's status will immediately become H4, potentially even before June. Since you are currently on H1B status, she can get H4 status anytime. Thanks.

Like

I have submitted my H1B/H4/H4EAD in normal processing (in the same package) in May 2023 and I am thinking of upgrading it to premium process so that my wife will get her renewed H4EAD card asap and she can continue with her job. My Q is if I upgrade my H1B in premium will it help with my H4EAD card processing?

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Replying to

Sure Hina I will do that. Thanks for your response and I must say this is a great website I came across in recent times. Thanks to you for this website. I wish good luck to you with your blogs and future writings.

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Here is my EAD timelines (Texas Center) for reference:


July 25, 2023 Card Was Delivered To Me By The Post Office

July 21, 2023 We mailed your new card your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, directly to the address you gave us.

July 14, 2023 We approved your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

July 13, 2023 We ordered your new card.

July 3, 2023 We denied your request for expedite processing.

June 9, 2023 We received your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

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Both my H4 & H4-EAD cases have been approved today.

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Replying to

Thank You! My previous/below comments have all details.

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