Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the primary F-1 visa holder to the U.S. may receive F-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S., as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the primary F-1 visa holder maintaining his/her legal status and extending his/her program in a timely manner.
All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the U.S. For more information on B-1/B-2 visitor visas for other family members, refer to Information for inviting dependents, relatives, and/or friends to the U.S.
The spouse and minor children (under age 21) of the F-1 student may be admitted into the U.S. in F-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form I-20 issued in his or her own name and an F-2 visa. To request an I-20 for your dependents:
- Provide the full name, date and country of birth, and relationship and provide documentation of sufficient financial support to the International Student Affairs office.
- The dependent I-20(s) will be prepared when all necessary information has been received and you will be notified when ready for pick-up.
Documents Needed to Apply for an F-2 Visa
- Valid passport
- Photographs (Passport Photo Size Requirements are listed here.)
- F-2 dependent SEVIS Form I-20
- Visa application fee
- Visa application forms
- Supporting documentation, including copies of the F-1 student’s immigration documents, proof of student status, and financial documentation.
Important Information about F-2 Status
After your dependent(s) arrive, please provide the International Student Affairs office with a copy of their passport biographic page(s), visa stamp(s), and I-94(s).
Once you, as the F-1 student, have completed your studies and you are planning to depart the U.S., your F-2 dependents must depart with you as well.
Dependent children over age 21 are not eligible for F-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) prior to their 21st birthday if they wish to remain in the U.S.
At the end of the F-1 program, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1/F-2 may stay in the U.S. Once the F-1 primary leaves the U.S., the F-2 dependents must leave as well.
The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment in the U.S. However, they may do volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the F-2 dependent is doing a job usually done by volunteers.
The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full time study; the F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). The F-2 spouse and child may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.
An F-2 spouse or F-2 child (post high-school) who desires to engage in full time study must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1, or M-1 status.