"Dependents" are legal spouses or unmarried minor children under the age of 21. Dependents must possess either an I-20 or DS-2019 in order to enter the U.S. Children born in the U.S. are not considered dependents in this context. Domestic Partners are not eligible for dependent status but may apply for B-2 visas.
Dependents in F-2 Status
Dependents may accompany you, the F-1 student, to the U.S. or follow to join you at a later date. Dependent family members hold F-2 status.
In order to qualify for F-2 status, individuals must establish to the satisfaction of the officer at the U.S. consulate and the immigration officer at the port of entry that the individual:
- Is your spouse (marriage license) or child (birth certificate) of you, the F-1 student. You must officially be married before ISS can issue a dependent I-20 for your spouse.
- Has sufficient funds to cover expenses while in the U.S.
- Intends to leave the U.S. upon completion of your F-1 status.
Each F-2 dependent must have their own original I-20.
How To Request a Dependent I-20
Submit the following documents to the ISS office:
- Completed Dependent Document Request Form
- Funding documentation. The funding documentation must show enough funds to pay for at least three quarters of expenses: tuition, and living expenses for you and your dependent(s). (Graduate student funding--RAs/TAs--will not entirely cover dependent expenses).
- Photocopy of the passport biographical page for your dependent(s).
Allow 7-10 business days for ISS processing. A new I-20 will be issued to you and each dependent. Your new I-20 will show the addition of your dependent(s) as well as their living expenses.
The new dependent I-20 issued by ISS does not grant F-2 status itself. A dependent must use the new I-20 to officially obtain F-2 status.
F-2 Dependent Living Expenses for 2016-2017
|9 months||12 months|
F-2 dependents may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances. Employment is defined as providing services, part-time or full-time, for financial or other compensation, including self-employment.
An F-2 dependent's status is valid only if you maintain status. Though the regulations do not define the amount of time an F-1 student can be outside the U.S. without affecting the status of the F-2 dependents who remain in the U.S., such periods of separation should be brief.
The spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full-time study, and the F-2 child may only engage in full-time study at an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). F-2 dependents can study part-time in an academic or vocational curriculum at an SEVP-certified school (this new benefit began May 29, 2015). F-2 dependents can also study in avocational or recreational programs--hobbies. An F-2 spouse or child who desires to engage in full-time study, other than as described above, must obtain F-1 status.
Dependents in J-2 Status
Dependents may accompany you, the J-1 the Exchange Visitor to the U.S. or follow to join you at a later date. Dependent family members hold J-2 status.
In order to qualify for J-2 status, individuals must establish to the satisfaction of the officer at the U.S. consulate and the immigration officer at the port of entry that:
- He or she is your spouse (marriage license) or child (birth certificate).
- He or she has sufficient funds to cover his/her expenses while in the U.S.
- He or she intends to leave the U.S. upon termination of your J-1 status.
Each J-2 dependent must be in possession of his or her own original DS-2019 form. To request a DS-2019 for a dependent, complete a Dependent Document Request Form. A new DS-2019 will be issued to the J-1 student and each dependent.
J-2 Dependent Living Expenses for 2016-2017
|9 months||12 months|
Evidence of these additional funds will need to be presented at the U.S. consulate. Graduate student funding (RA/TA) will not cover dependent expenses. Like J-1 students, J-2 dependents are required to have health insurance coverage at all times while in the U.S.
Dependents may request employment authorization from Immigration. Income from the J-2's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if the income is needed to support the J-1.
A J-2 spouse or child is eligible to study full or part-time. There are no restrictions on studying for individuals in J-2 status.
A J-2 dependent's status is valid only if the J-1 exchange visitor maintains status. Though the regulations do not define the amount of time a J-1 exchange visitor can be outside the U.S. without affecting the status of the dependents who remain in the U.S., such periods of separation should be brief.
Requesting a Dependent Document
Complete and submit Dependent Document Request Form together with the following documents, to ISS:
- Copy of the passport identification page for each dependent.
- Funding support letters, if applicable, from your academic department or government sponsor.
- Financial documents verifying the availability of funds to support each dependent (i.e. a bank letter).
Allow 7-10 business days for ISS processing.
You will receive an email from your ISS advisor or the ISS office (email@example.com) when your document is ready for pick up.