Basics of F-1 Dependents

A dependent is a spouse or children (unmarried under the age of 21). If you would like to have dependents accompany you during your study in the U.S., you will need to indicate this when completing your I-20 request e-form as well as providing the following:

  • provide a copy of the identity page of the passport for your dependent(s).
  • show additional funding on your financial documents for your dependents:
    • For your spouse: add $10,000 to the estimated expenses for your program of study.
    • For your child/children: add $6,000 per person to the estimated expenses for your program of study.

Applying for F-2 Dependent Visa

New students may choose to apply for F-2 I-20’s for family members while they apply for their initial I-20.

Also, current continuing students and students on Optional Practical Training may request an I-20 for a dependent by using the Request for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-20/DS-2019.

Once your dependent receives their F-2 I-20, they will need to schedule their visa appointment at a U.S. Consulate abroad. It may be possible for them to apply for their F-2 visas at the same time that you have an appointment to obtain your F-1 visa. You should check with the consulate you plan to visit for details. It is also possible for your dependent(s) to join you in the U.S. at a later time. Pay close attention to the important information below:

  • Dependents do not need to pay a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee
  • F-2 dependents may not work during their stay in the U.S.
  • Your F-2 spouse may study part-time, and F-2 children should attend school full time while you study in the U.S.

Basics of J-1 Dependents

A J-1 exchange visitor spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21, are eligible for J-2 status. The day the child turns 21 he or she is no longer eligible for a dependent J-2 status. Each J-2 dependent must have his or her own Form DS-2019. J-2 visa holders do not have to pay the SEVIS fee.

Each J-2 dependent may accompany or follow to join the J-1 exchange visitor in the U.S. while the J-1 exchange visitor maintains status. All J-2 dependents are required to comply with applicable federal regulatory requirements. Please see Maintaining J-2 Status section below for more information.

After arriving in the U.S., to request DS-2019 for accompanying dependent(s), please submit Request for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System I-20/DS-2019. Please note, you may need to show additional funding for dependent expenses.

Obtaining a J-2 Visa

Spouse and/or children (under age 21) will receive his/her own SEVIS generated DS-2019, with his/her own SEVIS number.

  • The J-2 visa may be obtained by bringing the dependent’s DS-2019 form and proof of adequate funding to a U.S. Consulate.
  • Proof of marriage for spouse and a birth certificate for each child may be requested for J-2 visa applicants.
  • You are also required to complete a separate visa application form for each child, even if they are included on a parent’s passport.

It is preferred that families apply for J-1 and J-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring copies of the student visa holder’s passport with the J-1 visa stamp and his/her DS-2019 along with all other required documents.

Maintaining J-2 status

  • J-2 dependents may study part-time or full-time in the U.S. while the J-1 exchange visitor is in valid status
  • J-2 dependents must also be covered by health insurance for the duration of the J-1 program
  • J-2 dependent children over the age of 21 are no longer eligible for J-2 status and will need to change to another status if they wish to remain in the U.S.
  • J-2 dependents may only work in the U.S. if they apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). More information regarding J-2 work authorization can be found here.