Dependent Documents and Status
An F-1 student may bring a qualified spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. while the student is engaged in full-time study. The dependents enter the U.S. under the visa category of F-2.
Students may request I-20 documents for the dependents upon submission of adequate additional financial support and passport copies to the Immigration Specialist at the Center for International Education (CIE). The dependents then use their own I-20 to apply for an F-2 visa from their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
F-2 dependents may not remain in the U.S. beyond the tenure of the principal F-1 student, and their status is dependent upon the status of the F-1 student. F-2 dependents are not allowed to work at all in the U.S. (on or off-campus), and any unauthorized employment would subject the dependent to deportation.
F-2 Dependents and Education
F-2 minors may attend primary and secondary school full time (kindergarten through 12th grade), but are not allowed to enroll in any post-secondary degree program (a college or university). F-2 spouses and children may also enroll in classes that are considered “avocational and recreational.” This is defined by USCIS as study to pursue a hobby or study of an occasional, casual, or recreational nature.
However, F-2 spouses and children who are interested in enrolling in post-secondary education leading to a degree or certificate must first be approved for a change of status to F-1 before applying to a post-secondary program and before enrolling in any such classes.
F-2 dependents also need their I-20 endorsed by the Immigration Specialist in the CIE in order to re-enter the U.S. after temporary travel abroad.
*The information on this page is for your information only and should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact an immigration attorney if legal advice is required.
Request an Appointment
Sign up for an appointment with the staff of the Center for International Education.