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Dependent Work Authorization*

Work Authorization Eligible Dependents

G-4 dependents who would like to seek employment in the U.S. must obtain work authorization. Under current regulations, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants U.S. work authorization to the following G-4 dependents:

  • Spouses and same-sex domestic partners
  • Unmarried children under age 21;
  • Unmarried children under age 23 who are full time students at post-secondary educational institutions; and
  • Unmarried children of any age who are physically or mentally disabled.

Eligible dependents may be authorized to work at any type of job, including unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, on a part-time or temporary basis.

Dependents of G-4 visa holders who seek employment in other international organizations may either become a principal staff member in that institution or work under valid work authorization as a G-4 dependent. Dependents who take on full-time employment at an embassy will need to change from G to A status.

Obtaining Work Authorization

G-4 visas are issued to your dependents (spouses, same-sex domestic partners and eligible children) prior to entering the U.S.  Before they can begin working, however, they must acquire a Personal Identity Number (PID) from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and then apply for, and receive, work authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

These processes cannot be initiated prior the employee's entry on duty, and each typically takes between 4 and 6 weeks. Your spouse and/or dependent should understand that it could take 12 weeks or longer before he/she may begin working in the U.S. Many Fund spouses use this time to take advantage of benefits such as the Spouse Employment Assistance Program and subsidized English language programs for spouses and partners, or to pursue continuing education courses on one's own.

Here is how the authorization process works:

1. To work in the U.S., a G-4 dependent must have a Personal Identification Number (PID) issued by the State Department (DOS). The IMF, as the sponsoring organization, reports new employees and family members to the DOS, typically at the end of each month. It normally takes between 4 and 6 weeks from the time the information is submitted until the PID is received.

2. Once the individual has received a PID, he or she may apply for work authorization. The application is processed through the IMF's Visa Services Office (VSO). The process, which normally takes from 4 to 6 weeks, includes:

  • Completing Form I-566 (Interagency Record of Request for Dependent Employment Authorization), through which the DOS confirms the eligibility of the applicant to work in the U.S.
  • Completing Form I-765 (Employment Authorization), which will be sent from the DOS to the USCIS as a request for an Employment Authorization Card (EAC).
  • Securing a description of the anticipated employment from either the prospective employer or from an individual who intends to be self-employed:
    • a. The letter from the prospective employer should be on official stationery and include:
      • i. A statement that the applicant is qualified for the job
      • ii. The job title and brief description of duties
      • iii. The number of hours expected to be worked per week
      • iv. The salary or other means of remuneration
    • b. The letter from a prospective self-employed applicant should include:
      • i. A statement of intent to work in a particular field
      • ii. A brief description of title and duties
      • iii. A description of how much you intend to charge
      • iv. The number of hours of work expected

3. Once you have provided this information to the VSO, it is sent to the DOS. The DOS endorses the I-566 and forwards the request to the USCIS, which issues the EAC to the applicant. 

4. Once an individual receives the EAC, he/she may begin to work and apply for a U.S. Social Security number. 

Frequently Asked Questions about G-4 Visa Dependents

Q. Are G-4 visa dependents immune from income tax or Social Security liability on wages earned in the United States?

A. No.  G-4 visa dependents who are granted employment authorization are responsible for paying all federal, state, and local income, employment, and related taxes and Social Security contributions on any compensation received.  Employers withhold applicable taxes and FICA duties from G-4 dependents just as they do for their other employees.   

Q. For how long can a G-4 dependent work in the United States?

A. Once approved, an application for employment is typically granted for three years.  However, work authorization can be continually renewed for as long as the G-4 dependent is legally entitled to remain in the U.S. Dependents are reminded to allow sufficient time to apply for authorization renewals to avoid a gap between the expiration of the current EAC and the issuance of a new one.

Q. Can a G-4 dependent work for an employer after being authorized to work as a self-employed individual?

A. Yes.  In many instances, a G-4 dependent who initially obtained work authorization as a self-employed individual is hired to work for an employer.  In that case, the G-4 dependent can begin to work for the new employer under his or her currently valid EAC.

Q. Are there any special procedures involving children who hold G-4 dependent visas?

A. If the dependent is under 17, he or she will need a labor certification from the child's school or relevant county official.  If the dependent is between 21 and 23, he or she will need to provide a letter from the post-secondary institution documenting full-time student status and the expected date of graduation. The letter must be on university letterhead with the school seal.

Q. Is employing someone on a G-4 dependent visa the same as "sponsoring" that person under the immigration laws?

A. No.  Hiring a G-4 dependent who has acquired work authorization as described above does not constitute "sponsorship" of the employee as that term is used and recognized in other aspects of immigration law. For example, in the case of temporary employees hired pursuant to section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b) of the INA (commonly referred to as "H-1B employees") or in the case of individuals applying for immigrant status, an employer must actively sponsor an applicant and deal directly with both the US Department of Labor and the USCIS.  This is not the case for employers who hire G-4 dependents.

Q. If my spouse's employer has agreed to sponsor my spouse, currently holding a G-4 nonimmigrant visa, for an immigrant visa (green card), can he or she then change status to that of an immigrant? Alternatively, if my spouse is successful in the Annual Immigration Diversity Lottery, is he or she eligible to change status?

A. Yes. A dependent spouse or child can change status from nonimmigrant to immigrant status, provided he or she is eligible for such status, files the appropriate documents, and is approved by the USCIS.


*The topics presented on this page are provided by the IMF for informational purposes. Policies governing the issuance of non-immigrant visas and dependent work authorization are determined by the U.S. authorities.