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International Student Services

F-2 Dependents

General Information

“Dependents” are legal spouses or unmarried minor children under the age of 21. Dependents must possess either an I-20 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. Each F-2 dependent must have their own original I-20.

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.

How To Request a Dependent I-20

  1. Gather the necessary documents to complete the online dependent document request form:
    • Scan or photos of the passport biographical page for your dependent(s)
    • Scan or photos of 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).
  2. Complete the online Dependent Document Request Form through MyISSS.
  3. Allow one month 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.
  4. You will receive an email from the ISS office ( when your documents are ready for pick up. 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 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 a 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 previously described, must obtain F-1 status.

How to Remove a Dependent

Circumstances may change so that a family member no longer needs dependent status. In these cases, you must notify ISS so we can update your SEVIS record.

  1. Upload documentation through MyISSS showing that your family member no longer needs dependent status. Explain in the “comments” section of the webform that dependent status is no longer needed.
  2. Allow time for ISS processing.
  3. ISS will terminate the dependent record in SEVIS and will issue you an updated I-20 or DS-2019.