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Acquiring a visa remains the most important as well as the most complicated part of the whole travelling thing. You may be fully aware as to why you chose a particular country to travel but the consular representatives of the country need answers for the same so as to grant you a visa. Each and every category of persons like a salaried employee or a foreign student has to follow a different procedure and submit distinct documents to get approval from the authorities. Careful research of the procedure and additional requirements, therefore, becomes essential. One small error might lead to the cancellation of the visa or make you liable for some offence under the foreign country’s rules and regulations. Your perfectly drafted itinerary of the trip might thereafter turn into a disaster.

Travelling is not solely for the purpose of enjoying a vacation. Some people travel to different countries because of job-related reasons. It is not astonishing to find a citizen of one country working in another country because of higher payments, exposure, and so on. Whatever be the reason, if you are a working person and you need to travel to a foreign country, you will have to fulfil certain requisites in order to safely land up in that country and spend a peaceful time there. As already mentioned, people with varied reasons for the visit have to follow a separate process in order to get authorization to enter the foreign country. A salaried employee cannot be expected to submit the same forms or applications as that of a prospective student willing to study abroad.

The United States of America has its own set of laws pertaining to the approval (or disapproval) of visa. Foreign citizens interested in working in the US also have to follow a certain procedure to get the approval from the consular representatives and thereby, a clearance as to working there. So, the first step towards gaining entry in the country is understanding the concept of two separate kinds of visa applications that is, H4 and H1 visa. I know you would be thinking as to what are these, why are they required and how are they acquired?

H1 (or precisely, H-1B visa) is the visa for foreign employees in the US. If you get a job in the US for a limited period of time, you will have to file an application to the US immigration department for the issuance of the same. Such an occupation should be a specialized one. For a work to be called specialized, it is essential that it demands an application of some specialized knowledge as also work experience in the same.

The duration of time allowed for H1 visa holders is three years which can be extended to a period of six years. If the foreign citizen still remains interested in his job after such a long period of time, he is allowed to extend it further by re-applying for the visa.

On the other hand, the H4 visa is granted to the close family members (basically husband or wife and children below 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders. The H4 visa is granted at the US consulate office located in the country of the person willing to have an H4 visa. It is granted to those who want to visit the US and stay with the family member who works there.

The law which permitted H4 visa holders to convert their status to an H-1 visa came into existence somewhere between the year 2014-2015.

Now it is possible that the relatives of the H-1B visa holders become interested in working in the US but the stay will be questioned if they do not possess the H-1B visa. H1 visa gives them the status of a legal resident in the US so that they can work peacefully without facing any problem from the officials. But then the question arises whether the H4 visa can be converted into an H-1B visa? It most certainly can. The process of transition is mentioned below.

First of all, you need to check whether or not you are eligible to get your visa converted. For a person to be eligible he must have an H4 visa, a job from an H-1B visa holder employer. Also, people who had earlier applied for H-1B visa and got it sanctioned but were later exempted from the H-1B cap or those who have an employment offer from an employer exempted through H-1B cap (which includes non-profit institutions or government-funded research institutions).

After confirming that you are qualified to apply for a conversion of your visa, you need to check what documents are required to be submitted for the purpose? Needless to say, you would need a valid passport with a duly authorized visa. Apart from that, an application (along with a form called I-539) stating that you need a change in your visa is required to be submitted. Also, some other documents that should be filed include the job offer letter and related documents.

It is not just the H4 visa person who is supposed to submit the documents. The employer (person with H-1B visa) has to submit some documents too. Some of the essential ones are a labour condition application letter duly certified by the Labour Department of the United States of America, proof that the job offered to the H4 visa holder falls under the category of specialized employment, evidence regarding the employee’s (the person who has applied for conversion of the visa) degree, field of specialization and professional experience in the field he is provided the job and also copy (or copies) of any license or certification required to carry on that particular work.  

Furthermore, a form (I-538) is to be provided to the authorities so as to change the non-immigrant status of the H4 visa holder.

There are many advantages to converting the visa status. The foreign citizen would then be allowed to work full time in any specialized field. They would be allowed to extend their duration of stay in the country as long as they wish to (subject to re-application or renewals of the visa from time to time).

Considering the fact that the United States of America provides employment to a huge number of people and has a wide number of options for those willing to work, the opportunity to work there should not be missed by anyone who receives it. If you have a family member who is working there and you are already possessing the H4 visa and find that one job which seems to be perfect for you, conversion of your visa into an H1 remains the most feasible option both politically and individually. You should never take the risk of accepting the job offer without applying for the change in the status of visa. Every country is sovereign and will be very stern in handling matters concerning foreign citizen as safety and security of the country’s citizens remains the priority. One should never try to act against any regulation anywhere let alone in a foreign country as friendly relations among countries deteriorate based on the activities of citizens.

Furthermore, one wrong step may lead to the cancellation of your visa and the authorities might go as far as deporting you back to your home country. Maybe you will get a better job elsewhere but you will lose all the hopes of being with your family member working in the US. For such reasons, it is recommended to everyone that before taking the decision of working or visiting a foreign country, thorough research on all the aspects of obtaining a visa should be done. It might consume some of your precious time but in the end, you would be leading a comfortable life in the US. Worth your time, isn’t it?

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