International students and scholars may choose to have their family join them in the United States, through F-2 or J-2 dependent visas.
J-2/F-2 visa holders may remain in the U.S. as long as the primary J-1/F-1 remains in valid status (including the grace period after successful completion of the J-1/F-1’s program). They may enter with or after the primary visa holder.
Who is eligible?
Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible for dependent visas. Dependents may choose to apply for a visa at the same time as the international student or scholar, or at a later date.
Children born in the U.S. are considered citizens and no additional proof of funding is required for them, nor are they eligible for an I-20 or DS-2019.
When a J-2/F-2 child marries or reaches the age of 21, the child is no longer a dependent and cannot remain in the U.S. The J-2/F-2 should depart the country at that time, or apply for a new visa status in a timely manner.
What do I need to do to request dependent visas?
You’ll need to show additional proof of funding to support your family while they are in the United States, and submit the passport ID page of each dependent.
What if my spouse already holds an F-1/J-1 and wants to change to an J-2/F-2 dependent visa?
If your spouse holds another non-immigrant status and wishes to change his or her status to a J-2/F-2, you’ll need to file a change of status application with USCIS, or travel outside the U.S. to request a new visa and re-enter on your new DS-2019 or I-20.
May I study on a dependent visa?
Children on dependent visas may study full-time in elementary or secondary school (through the 12th grade).
F-2: Spouses on F-2 visas may study part-time. An F-2 visa holder wishing to be admitted to a degree program and study full-time must apply for a change of status to F-1.
J-2: Spouses on J-2 visas may study full-time; however, there are benefits to changing to a student visa.
May I work on a dependent visa?
F-2: USCIS does not permit holders of F-2 visas to work. Someone on an F-2 visa may volunteer, however; take care that the commitment is truly volunteer work and not volunteering your time for work that is normally paid, which is a violation of U.S. labor law.
J-2: J-2 visa holders may apply for work authorization after arriving in the United States. It is approved by USCIS and takes about three months.