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Does This Means that She Failed to Maintain Her H-4 Status in U.S.?

Hi William:

As a H-1B visa holder, I recently extended my H-1B status by submitting an application to USCIS by my employer. But they forgot to renew my wife's H-4 status also at the same time. What should I do now? Does this means that she has failed to maintain her H-4 status in U.S. already?    


A common error involves family members who have derivative status, such as spouses or children with H-4 status. Frequently, it is assumed that extending the principal H-1B status automatically extends the derivative status of family members. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As mentioned, each family member must obtain an extension by filing a request with the USCIS. The status is only extended if such a filing is made and approved with the issuance of new I-94 for each family member. So, your wife should file the renew application as soon as possible.

The mistake of allowing the H-4 status to expire can have catastrophic results. In the United States, there are harsh penalties for failure to maintain status, as well as bars to reentry for those who have extended periods of unlawful presence. Generally, once a person has fallen out of legal status, she or he is no longer allowed to extend or change status without leaving the United States. This procedure is expensive, inconvenient and can be risky. More importantly, if one has been unlawfully present for more than 180 days, she or he will be barred from reentering the U.S. for three years from the date of departure. 

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