Foreign nationals on H1B status in the US can bring in their spouse and children as dependents. The visa status for such dependents is H-4.
For a foreign national in the US to bring in his dependents from overseas, no prior USCIS approval is required. The dependents can apply for H4 visas at the US Consulates in their home countries (or countries of residence) along with documentation proving the H1B holders status as well as the relationship with the dependents.
For dependents in the US on another status, such as F-2 or L-2, applications for change of status to H4 can be filed either along with the principal alien’s H-1B petition, or any time after filing such H-1B petition. In such cases, the dependents should file the H-4 change of status applications before the H-1B is approved, because as of the date of H-1B approval the principal alien’s previous status (i.e., F-1, L-1) is lost.
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