Career Advice  Relocation Resources      

Possibilities Abound: 4 Career Options for H-4 Visa Holders




22-Feb-2017
The USCIS has modified H-4 regulations to allow some H-4 visa holders to work while in the United States. You might be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if your spouse is in the process of obtaining a green card.* If you hold an H-1B visa, you can potentially change status to H-4 with EAD.

An H-4 EAD is unrestricted, meaning you have freedom to pursue multiple endeavours without worrying about your employer sponsoring you. A career coach can serve as a much needed advisor while you determine what step is best for your career. Here are 4 areas to explore:

1. Launch your career in the U.S. If you have been unable to work in the U.S., you are now eligible to obtain employment. Use the time during the EAD approval process to jump start your job search. A career coach can prepare you for the cultural nuances you will experience during interviews, enhance your LinkedIn profile, tailor your résumé /CV for the U.S. job market, and coach you on effective networking techniques. While you cannot interview or accept a job offer during the 90-day EAD approval process, you can ensure you are ready to apply once you obtain it. 

2. Change jobs with ease. A benefit to the new rules is being able to leave your current job without needing to find H-1B sponsorship. This makes career transitions much easier to achieve. Work with your coach to determine if a career change is right for you and discuss ways to leverage your skills and achievements. Then research companies that interest you as well as employers who are open to working with visa holders. 

3. Accept part-time work. The flexibility that comes with an H-4 EAD means you can make your career work for your lifestyle and needs. You can accept a part-time position without penalties or legal issues. Part-time work may include professional roles, non-profit roles, educational roles, and retail/hospitality roles. Partner with your career coach to find the perfect part-time position. 

4. Take a career break. When you step back from your career, you no longer face losing your employment benefits. Do you wish to care for your young family? Are you ready to focus on a new pursuit or hobby? Your career coach can recommend ways for you to keep your skills fresh while you take a career break. Your coach can also advise you on addressing the employment gap in your résumé/CV and locating continuing education options. 

It is always best to consult with an immigration attorney to confirm your eligibility and discuss timing issues. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a great resource for finding local immigration attorney referrals.  

*FAQs: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses, USCIS


Contribution by Jo Crawford.

Jo is an experienced career coach with extensive background as an immigration paralegal, specialising in employment-based non-immigrant and immigrant visas. Connect with Jo on LinkedIn today

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