Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for dependent immigration status based on you as the primary immigration beneficiary. H-1B dependents hold H-4 status, O-1 dependents hold O-3 status, TN dependents hold TD status, and E-3 dependents hold E-3D status.

Coming to the US for the first time

Your dependents do not need UAB to file any applications for them and do not need their own USCIS approval notices in order to apply for their first visa to enter the US. However, they do need to complete and submit Form DS-160, pay the necessary visa fees. Your dependents can then enter the US with their own visa and a copy of your USCIS approval notice.

Extending or changing status from inside the US

If your dependents are already inside the US, they must file an application with USCIS in order to change or extend their current immigration status. Your spouse must complete and file Form I-539, and your spouse must complete and sign (in black ink) a Form I-539A for all non-US citizen children age 14 or younger. Your non-US citizen child(ren) over the age of 14 should sign their own Form I-539A (in black ink). ISSS will include dependent applications that you complete and provide to us when we file the institution's work authorization petition on your behalf as a courtesy, but ISSS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of the information provided on dependent forms.

The current USCIS filing fee for a Form I-539 dependent application is $370. There is no separate filing fee for Form I-539A for children. USCIS accepts checks or money orders payable to “US Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use any other abbreviations. You can also file these applications online through the USCIS website's I-539 page.

Once the forms are accepted by USCIS, your dependents will receive a notice from USCIS at your home address. USCIS does not apply the premium processing rule to dependent applications filed with the primary petition. Do not expect your dependents’ applications to be approved within 15 calendar days, even if your own work authorization petition was premium processed. You can check USCIS processing times at the California Service Center online at any time.

Dependent Work Authorization

Generally, dependents are not allowed to work in the US and are ineligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). However, they can obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for health insurance and tax purposes. For information on applying for an ITIN, please book an appointment with our Non-Resident Tax Specialist.

The one exception is for H-4 spouses: if, and ONLY if, you have an approved I-140 (such as for an EB-1B, EB-2, or EB-3 application filed by your employer), your H-4 spouse can file an application for an EAD card online at the USCIS website here.

Driving in Alabama

Dependents can apply for an Alabama driver license. Your dependent does not need a letter from the ISSS in order to apply for a driver license. If your dependent does not have employment, your dependent must obtain a “proof of denial” letter from the Social Security Administration in order to apply for a driver license or state ID. Your dependent should bring the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Most recent Form I-94
  • USCIS approval notice (if your dependent changed or extended status inside the US)
  • Original paper Social Security Card (not a copy), if employed
  • “Proof of denial letter” if unemployed (see above)
  • Credit/debit card or cash for driver license fee (currently $36.25)
  • Cash or money order for the road test (currently $5)
  • Birth certificate (not required, but helpful)


Dependents can enroll in classes either part-time or full-time. For questions about in-state tuition, please visit UAB's Cost & Aid website and follow the instructions. ISSS does not make tuition determinations.