A spouse or a minor child (under age 21) of an F-1 student is permitted an F-2 visa. The F-2 visa does not permit employment, and study is permitted only for children through grade 12. The F-1 student is fully responsible for the economic support of his or her family members, and must show adequate financial documentation to USCIS if bringing family members to the U.S. An F-2 Sponsor Form to assist with documentation is accessible by clicking on "student service forms" on the left-hand menu. If a student wishes to bring family members on an F-2 visa, he or she should see the DSO to discuss the process. An F-2 child approaching his or her 21st birthday should file for a change of status in a timely manner. An F-1 spouse who finishes studies may change status to F-2 as well. The F-2 may study in kindergarten through high school education, but must change to F-1 in order to study post-secondary education in a college or university.

A spouse or minor child of a J-1 exchange visitor is permitted a J-2 visa. J-2 visa-holders may apply for employment authorization from USCIS, as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1. Income from a J-2's employment can be used to support family recreational and cultural activities, for example. There are no restrictions on study for a J-2.

If an F-1 or J-1 visa-holder falls out of status, so do their dependents. If the F-1 or J-1 SEVIS record is terminated, the dependent's SEVIS records are also terminated. The student or scholar with family members in the U.S., therefore, should take extra care to maintain visa status. The J-2 may also be subject to the 212e two-year home residence requirement, but may be eligible to waive the requirement if turning 21 and seeking change of visa status. OISSS recommends consultation with an immigration attorney in such a case.

An F-2 dependent must file for a change of status to F-1 if he or she is accepted to study at a university or other school. The change of status must be complete before enrolling.

Checklist for an F-2 or J-2 Interview

Your family members will need to schedule a visa interview with the U.S. Consulate to request a dependent visa. They should first inquire at the local consulate as to how to schedule a visa interview and what documents to provide. Most likely, they will be required to submit the following:

  • Valid passport
  • Visa application forms and any other forms required by the U.S. Department of State
  • Dependent Form I-20 (F-2) or Dependent Form DS-2019 (J-2) from OISSS
  • Letter from OISSS confirming the visa status of the F-1 or J-1
  • Academic transcripts (of F-1 or J-1 student) from the Registrar's Office or Copy of J-1 scholar's program contract from the academic department.
  • Letter of recommendation from one of the student's professors or letter from scholar's supervisor
  • Photocopies of immigration documents (passport, visa, I-94 and I-20 or DS-2019)
  • Financial Affidavits (students)
  • Proof of relationship (marriage license, birth certificates, etc.)
  • Two Passport-style Photographs
  • Evidence of intention to return upon completion of program

Please inform the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) regarding the results of the visa interview. When your family members arrive to the U.S., make photocopies of their passports, visas and I-94s and submit to OISSS.