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H4 Visa


✓ Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of H-1B, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders.

The validity of the H4 visa is directly linked to the primary visa holder's employment status. H4 visa will loss its validity when:

  • H1B loss Jobs: If the H1B visa holder loses their job, H4 dependents have 60 days to secure another nonimmigrant status to stay in the U.S.
  • Divorce: If H-type primary visa holder divorce H4, H4 loss its visa status. There is no grace period after divorce is finalized, H4 holders are expected to leave the country immediately.
  • Reached Age Limit: Dependent children must switch to a different non-immigrant visa, such as the F1 Student Visa, upon turning 21 to remain in the U.S.


✓ as long as their corresponding H1B or other primary visa holder remains gainfully employed.  

Travel & Reentry 

✓ as long as their corresponding H1B or other primary visa holder remains gainfully employed.


 ✓ with EAD card

Typically, H4 visa holders are eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) only after the H1B holder's I-140 petition has begun processing.


✓ Full-time/Part-time

✓ In State Tuition Rate

H4 visa holders are allowed to study in the U.S., either as full-time or part-time students. Whether they qualify for in-state tuition, however, depends on the specific policies of the state and educational institution. 

F1 Visa


In order to be qualified for having F1 status, one must enrolled at a SEVP-certified US education institution as full-time students.

In order to maintain one's F1 status, F1 holder must: 

  • Maintain a valid I-20 : Always keep track of your I-20's expiration date and ensure it doesn't expire. Before leaving the US, make sure to obtain a travel signature. Additionally, you will need a new I-20 if there are changes such as your degree level, major, funding source, or if you alter the number of F-2 dependents. 
  • Enrolled Full-time: Undergraduate students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester. Most graduate students must enroll in at least 8 credit hours.
  • Work only with authorization
  • Abide by grace period


✓ while maintain F1 status

Travel & Reentry

Valid F1 status & travel signature on their Form I-20 issued by their school’s Designated School Official (DSO) is needed for reentry. 


On-Campus Employment: up to 20 hours per week during the academic term and full-time during breaks, providing practical experience and financial support.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): 12 to 36 months with EAD card

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): During their study period; no EAD card is required


✓ Full-Time

F-1 students cannot study in the US as part-time students.

Why Change of Status from H4 to F1

Get Work Authorization Faster

H4 visa holders facing delays in obtaining Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) can benefit from switching to an F1 visa. This shift not only expedites access to employment but also allows for immediate participation in on-campus jobs and Day 1 CPT at selected institutions, effectively circumventing protracted EAD processing times.

H1B Laid Off

The H4 visa depends on the status of the H1B holder, while the F1 visa offers independence, linking your U.S. residency to your academic progress rather than a relative's employment status. This grants greater stability and control over your career and residency in the U.S.

If an H1B holder, such as a spouse, is laid off, they can switch to an F2 visa based on your F1 status, maintaining their legal residency while searching for new employment. This transition to an F1 visa enhances both career and residency stability in the U.S.




Once a divorce is finalized, individuals on an H4 visa do not have a grace period and must leave the U.S. immediately. Therefore, if you are on a dependent visa and facing divorce, and wish to remain in the country regardless of the outcome, we recommend applying for a change of status before the divorce is finalized.


Turning 21 Years Old H visa dependent children will lose their H4 status once turned 21 years old. In order to stay in the US legally, they will have to apply for a different non-immigrate visa. F1 is the most common choices.  

Can You Change Status from H4 to F1?

Yes, as long as you fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • in lawful status at the time of application.
  • must not have any unauthorized employment history in the U.S.
  • should not abandon their nonimmigrant intentions.
  • seeking to change to F-1 status must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover living expenses and tuition.

H4 to F1 Change of Status Free Consultation

H4 to F1 Change of Status Steps

Get Admitted by a SEVIP-Certified University

Beginning your journey from an H4 to F1 visa status, the foremost step is to secure an acceptance letter from a college or university. It's crucial to select schools known for their outstanding support for international students, providing a wealth of resources and detailed guidance through the visa transition process. Considering the common reasons for the H4 to F1 Change of Status (COS) and the time-sensitive nature of this change, Day 1 CPT universities stand out as the best options. Their benefits include:

  • six start dates annually
  • competitive tuition fees
  • immediate access to the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program. 


Apply for Change of Status (COS) from H4 to F1

Complete form I-539 online and submit the following supporting documents:

  • Acceptance letter & I-20; 
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Recent I-94 copy
  • Passport copies (including visa stamps)
  • Previous I-797s (if H4 was extended in the US)
  • Proof of financial capability 
  • Letter stating reason for change of status.
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Spouse's documents: Passport copies, recent I-94, last three pay stubs, and a cover letter if they're covering education fees.
RFE (Rare)

Occasionally, applicants for a Change of Status (COS) might receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

While the success rate for addressing RFEs in change of status cases is notably high, encountering this step can extend the overall timeline by three to six months and incur additional legal fees, which vary based on your chosen legal service provider.

It's crucial, therefore, to ensure your application is complete and includes all necessary documentation from the outset.

CPTDog provides a complete Change of Status service at a flat rate, covering RFE responses without additional charges for a seamless experience.

H4 to F1 Change of Status Cost and Processing Time


  • On-line Submission: $420
  • Submit by mail: $470
  • Premium Processing: $1,965

Processing Time

  • 3 - 8 months with no RFE
  • 12 - 16 months with RFE
  • 30 working days with premium processing

How Can CPTDog Help?

Transparent and Affordable Pricing

We believe in clear and straightforward financial dealings. Unlike the hourly rates charged by many law firms, GoElite offers a flat fee of $1,500. This transparent pricing model eliminates any surprises and helps you budget effectively for your visa application process.

Strong University Affiliations

CPTDog is affiliated with over 25 accredited Day 1 CPT universities across the United States. These partnerships underscore our credibility and established presence in the academic and immigration sectors, making us a trusted choice for your educational and visa needs.

Complimentary Consultation Services

Get started on your educational journey with a free consultation from CPTDog. Our experts will help you identify the perfect Day 1 CPT program that fits your academic and career aspirations, ensuring you make the most informed decision.

Financial Assistance Benefits

We offer significant financial benefits to ease your educational expenses:

Application Fee Waivers: Reduce your upfront costs with waived application fees at participating universities.
Scholarship Opportunities: If you meet specific criteria, you might be eligible for scholarships.
Expedited Service Options

For applicants facing tight deadlines or needing quicker processing, GoElite provides expedited services. Request our fast-track assistance to speed up your application and Change of Status process, ensuring you meet your timelines without hassle.

You Ask, We Answer

H4 to F1 FAQ

What happens if my application to change status is denied? If your change of status application is denied, you will continue to maintain your current H4 status as long as it remains valid. You would need to leave the U.S. if your H4 visa expires or seek another status adjustment based on your circumstances.
Can I travel outside the U.S. during my change of status process?

Traveling outside the U.S. during the status change process is generally not recommended as it might be considered as abandoning your application. If travel is necessary, it's crucial to consult with an immigration attorney before leaving.

What’s the cost for H4 to F1 change of status?

Change of Status Petition (I-539): $420 - $470

SEVIS Fee: $200

Premium Processing: $1,965

Lawyer Fee: $200 -300 / hr, usually takes 3-8 hours depending on the case. 

University Application Fee: $50-250


What is the current processing time for H4 to F1 change of status?

Without Primary Processing: 3-6 months

Primary Processing: 1 month

USCIS assigns your petition to a service center based on the specific type of filing. Petitions received at USCIS lockbox locations are then routed to the nearest service center. After receiving your petition, USCIS will issue a receipt notice indicating the service center responsible for processing your case.

*For an up-to-date estimate, see the USCIS Case Processing Times.

How Long Before You Can Start Working on CPT After Changing Status from H4 to F1?

Understanding the timeline from H4 to F1 status change to employment under Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) is crucial for planning your career transition in the U.S. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how you can begin working on CPT within approximately 2 to 2.5 months, assuming optimal conditions:

Week 1: Initial Consultation and University Application

  • Consultation: Start by booking a free consultation with our experts who will assist you in selecting a school that aligns with your academic and professional goals.
  • Application: With our guidance, apply to Day 1 CPT universities. Our expedited service option can help you receive an offer within three business days.

Week 2: Acceptance and Initiation of Change of Status

  • School Offer and I-20: Once you receive your school offer and I-20 form, we will help you initiate the Change of Status (COS) process.

Weeks 3 to 7: Processing Your Change of Status

  • COS Completion: If you opt for Premium Processing (PP), the COS can typically be completed within about a month, granting you your F1 status.

Week 8: Enroll and Apply for CPT

  • Course Enrollment: Enroll in the program and select courses eligible for CPT.
  • CPT Application: Apply for CPT authorization, ideally having secured a job offer by this point.

Week 9: Start Working

  • CPT Authorization: Receive your CPT authorization and begin your employment.

Additional Considerations: It’s important to note that the timeline depends on the school’s academic schedule. CPT cannot commence until the start of the course designated for CPT.

Can I enroll while my COS is pending?

You can enroll in your university while your Change of Status (COS) application is pending with USCIS. However, it's crucial to maintain your H4 status during this period.

Additionally, be aware that you may not be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) while your COS application is pending.

What if my H4 status is about to expire? As long as COS application I-539 is filed, you can legally stay in the U.S. However, if your H4 status expire during the process, you will loss all rights associated with H4. If you don't have sufficient time to hand in I-539 before H4 expires, you need to file another application to extend your H4 visa status before start the COS process. 
Can I change to F1 from H4 and my spouse change to F2 from H1B at the same time? Absolutely. This scenario might arise for some individuals when the initial H1B visa holder faces job termination. The H1B individual must then transition their visa status to F2 after the original H4 visa holder switches their status to F1. In this dynamic, roles are reversed: the dependent becomes the primary visa holder, while the former primary visa holder takes on the dependent role. It's possible to process both applications concurrently, but this is only feasible through mail submission, as online applications currently do not support combined filings. Given the intricacies of these proceedings, seeking legal guidance is highly advisable.

H4 to F1 Change of Status Free Consultation


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