Bringing a Dependent to the U.S.
An international student may be accompanied to the U.S. by his or her dependent(s) at any time. Dependents are defined as spouses and/or unmarried minor children. Children over the age of 21 are not eligible to enter as the dependent of an international student (F-1 or J-1). An international student’s dependents may apply for their F-2 or J-2 visas at the same time that the international student applies for an F-1 or J-1 visa, or they may apply for their F-2 or J-2 visas at a later date. If they are granted a visa, they may enter the U.S. when the international student does, or they may enter the U.S. at a later date.
If you wish to bring a dependent to the U.S., please contact the Immigration Advisor to request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019. You will need the dependent’s passport, a marriage certificate (for a dependent spouse) or a birth certificate (for a dependent child), and a financial statement of an extra $3,500 per dependent.
The same rules apply to dependent travels as to travel by international students. A current travel signature is still required for re-entry to the U.S.
A spouse with an F-2 visa is not allowed to study full-time in any school in the U.S. However, the F-2 spouse is allowed to study part-time. An F-2 child dependent may only study full-time in an elementary or secondary school (Kindergarten through 12th grade).
An F-2 spouse wishing to engage in full-time study must apply for and obtain a change of non-immigration classification to F-1 status.
A J-2 spouse may study full time in the U.S.
Dependents of F-1 students may not apply for work authorization in the U.S. as the F-2 visa does not allow it. F-2 dependents will not be able to be employed in the U.S.
Dependents of J-1 students are allowed to work in the U .S. with proper work authorization. This authorization can only be applied for once the J-2 has entered the country, and could take up to three to four months for USCIS to authorize the employment. The J-2 spouse may not begin working until receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card. The EAD cards are only issued for a 12 month period, and may be renewed each year that the J-2 spouse is in J-2 status.
When Does F-2 or J-2 Status End?
F-2 and J-2 dependents are eligible to remain in the U.S. as long as the F-1 or J-1 student remains in valid status. Once the F-1 has completed the program of study, the F-1 and F-2 dependents are eligible to stay in the U.S. for up to 60 days. Once the J-1 has completed the program of study, the J-1 and J-2 dependents are eligible to stay in the U.S. for up to 30 days.