Urgent help required. Which is better -- H4 or F1 Visa ?


I work for one of the top MNC of India. My company sponsored H1B for me and the visa is stamped 2 weeks ago. My wife has not attended any Visa interview yet. My wife is working for one of top USA based software product company from past 4 years and has an excellent academic/professinal background. In past 6 months, my wife wrote GRE, TOEFL and applied for 4 universities near to my work location at USA. Right now we both are in India and I will be travelling to USA in the 1st week of December 2013 to join my onsite team. My wife is interested to pursue MS at USA (for Spring) and would like to join me in January 2014.

Now I am confused whether to let my wife come to USA on F1 or H4 ? Which one would be better ?

I do not know the advantages/disadvantages I would have, if my wife is comes on H4, related to tax savings on my salary etc…

Similarly I do not know the advantages/disadvantages my wife would have, if she comes on H4 ?

Please share your opinion/suggestion/experince.

Thanks in advance.

Best Regards,

On H-4, she cannot work but can enroll in the school. She can look at the specific schools to see what their fees and rules are around H-4 visa holders.

When on F-1, she can avail OPT/CPT in future, and will be eligible for H-1 under Advanced Degree cap. The fees will be higher in case of F-1.

Also, the F-1 interview may be tougher as you will be going on H-1. Maybe she can enter on H-4 and get enrolled in school. Later, she can file COS from H-4 to F-1 in order to avail CPT and OPT.

Hi Saurabh,

Thank you very much for your quick reply.

We are recently married (an year ago) and my wife’s passport does not contain my name. Even though she mentions that she is married in DS160, she won’t admit that I do have a H1B stamped. In such a case, is there a way for the Visa stamping officer to know that I have a H1B ?

I heard that COS from H4 to F1 will take 2 to 2.5 months to get approved. In such a case, she might miss joining spring semester. Her entire preparation for past 6 months will go waste. Please suggest.


First rule of thumb - do not lie to the VO. If they ask about husband’s visa status then the same needs to be replied truthfully.

She can enroll on H-4, continue studying, file COS and once approved join on F-1 from next quarter/semester. You can check w/ the specific school as well about this (enrolling on H-4 and later re-enrolling on F-1).

Hi Saurabh,

Thank you very much for your quick reply. I am grateful to your replies. Finally I have one question.

I have not yet traveled to USA and my wife is planning attend stamping, even before I travel. There are lot of advantages of having F1 rather than H4, some of them are

  1. Eligibility for OPT/CPT, assistantships
  2. No need to get stamped again in case my wife travels to India for her brother marriage

Hence we are preferring F1 rather than H4. As I am not in USA at present, still is there a chance that VO asks about husband’s visa status ?

In DS160, we need to answer only one question related to this – “Is your spouse/siblings/parents are in USA?”. The answer for this question will be “No” from her anyhow. If she admits that I am married, I am taking a break from job and my husband is working here at India, I think she will get through stamping process.

Just to add to above comments, my wife has started preparing for GRE/TOEFL and higher education even before my petition is filed as she is really interested to pursue her higher education. She has excellent academic and professional background and she applied for 5 universities, all of them are listed in top 90 universities for MS in CS. She is not just doing MS with the intention of accompanying me. Hence respecting her intentions of pursuing higher education, I am preferring F1 rather than H4. But in case if in turn becomes a negative because of my H1, I would rather prefer H4.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Sorry for troubling.

Hi Saurabh,

Can you please share your thoughts on my last question.

Excuse me for bothering much.

Thanks and Regards,

hi , I am in the same situation planning to start my graduation next year and the preparation process(gre, toefl, etc) are in this year. my husband will go via H1,etc. On choosing top level universities, will they accept full-time thro h4?is it easy to file COS from h4 to f1-any prob in that(bcoz our plan is that i may travel in h4 this year? or can i attend f1 stamping before i join college? please help


My wife did MS through F1 Visa. I prefer doing MS with F1.