After 9-month wait, Indian woman gets H-4 approved for three days!

An Indian woman shares with the American Bazaar how her entire family is being punished on her eldest child aging out

Michigan based Lakshmi who has been living in the US for two decades now will have a bizarre immigration story to tell her grandkids.

Lakshmi who has been on an H-4 visa for spouses of high skilled H-1B workers had been awaiting her H-4 approval for nine long months. During this time, she lost her job, gave up a job offer, wrote to senators, local politicians and USCIS to expedite her case.

She even spent thousands of dollars consulting immigration lawyers. But finally when Lakshmi got her H-4 approval, it hardly meant anything for her – because H-4 approval was valid for only 3 days!

In what can be best described as an excruciating experience for the family, Lakshmi tells the American Bazaar, “I have reapplied for my H-4 extension. I actually reapplied on Dec 4, fearing that USCIS might not send me my H-4 approval at all.”

Read: H-4 spouses may get travel waiver on grounds of family separation (June 10, 2021)

“Then in the final week, I got the H-4 approval with three days validity left,” she said. “So, since I reapplied before my H-4 expired, I am legally allowed to stay without accruing unlawful status.”

She adds, “If I would have got the H-4 approval a week back, I would have definitely tried going to the Mexico-US border, crossing and coming back to the US with the latest I94 till March 2024. Then I would have come under the auto 180 days H-4EAD (work permit for spouse) rule.”

Sharing her ordeal, she says, “I had two promising full-time job offers on hand — one from Ford another from Tesla. I had to withdraw from both due to my short H-4 validity. My EAD applied in March 2021, still remains pending.”

But how did this H-4 valid for just three days come about? Lakshmi explains, “Since my daughter is turning 21 and aging out of the system, all H-4 dependents in my family are punished by this aging-out rule.”

Lakshmi’s family came to the US back in 2012. The family filed for a green card petition (I140) which was approved in 2016 and Lakshmi restarted her career in the US on an H-4EAD.

However, she was laid-off in 2020 due to Covid workforce reduction. The family applied for a visa extension in 2021. While her husband’s H-1B was approved and extended until March 2024, her H-4 and EAD remained pending.

During this time, the family’s eldest child was aging out. When the family raised several expedited requests, they were in for a rude shock.

Read: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses (November 12, 2021)

They learnt that if they do not withdraw their elder kid’s H4 application, all three members would get their H-4 extended only till her daughter’s date of aging out in Dec 2021.

“I was not aware of this ‘Aging out regulation’ until I got the RFE (Request for Evidence),” she says. “We had only one choice – my daughter had to leave the US, while we await the pending decision on our H-4. I have honestly lost all hope in the US immigration system.”

(Name has been changed on request)

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