Dependents are spouses or unmarried minor children under the age of 21. They may accompany an F-1 or J-1 student to the United States or join the student at a later date. They are eligible for admission to the United States in F-2 and J-2 status respectively and will be issued individual I-20s or DS-2019s.

The student needs to request an I-20 or DS-2019 from International Recruitment and International Services for his or her dependent. The dependent should then go to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and obtain an F-2 visa or J-2 visa before entering the U.S.

Bringing a Spouse or Children to the U.S.

If a student wishes to bring his/her spouse or children to the United States, the student needs to submit to International Recruitment and International Services the following documents:

  • Dependent I-20 or DS-2019 Request Form
  • Current bank statement indicating that he/she has at least $4,500 to sponsor a spouse and $3,000 to sponsor each dependent or letter of sponsorship, attesting that the living expenses of the student’s dependent(s) will be paid by the entity giving the scholarship.
  • Copy of passport biographical picture page of the dependents
  • Proof of relationship such as copy of the marriage license or child’s birth certificate accompanied by English translation

To qualify for F-2 or J-2 status, a dependent must demonstrate that the F-1 or J-1 student has been admitted and is or will be enrolled full-time or engaged in optional practical training or academic training.


F-2 Dependents: The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may now engage in part-time study, but not full-time study. However, an F-2 child who is in elementary or secondary school (i.e. kindergarten through twelfth grade) may engage in full-time study only at these levels. The only form of study permitted for F-2 spouse and child who is not in K-12 level is study that is avocational or recreational in nature such as English language conversation.

An F-2 dependent desiring to engage in full-time study must apply for and obtain a change of non-immigrant classification to F-1 status. An F-2 dependent violates his or her non-immigrant status by engaging in full-time studies that is not permitted.

J-2 Dependents: J-2 dependents are permitted to study full-time or part-time with no restriction.


F-2 Dependents: Individuals in F-2 status are not permitted to work in the United States and may not accept employment under any circumstance.

J-2 Dependents: Individuals in J-2 status are allowed to work in the United States, but must first apply for employment authorization from USCIS before starting employment. They can use Form I-765 to apply for employment.