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F-2 Dependents

F-2 dependents are defined as the spouse or unmarried children, under the age of 21, of an F-1 visa holder. Parents and other family members of the F-1 are not eligible for F-2 status. F-2 status is contingent upon the status of the primary F-1 visa holder. Below you will find immigration information for dependent family members but pre-arrival information for families and resources for family life in the U.S. may also be helpful, depending on where you are in the process.

Allowable activities for an F-2 dependent Heading link

  • Study – F-2 dependents are eligible to study in postsecondary degree programs while in the U.S. so long as the number of credits taken per term is below the full-time study requirement for F-1 status. F-2 dependents may study full-time in avocational or recreational programs. If an F-2 dependent wished to study full-time in postsecondary academic or vocational program, they must obtain a change of status prior to enrolling full-time. F-2 minor dependents must follow local education requirements by attending kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Work – F-2 dependents are not eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Volunteering – F-2 dependents may be eligible to volunteer provided the opportunity is unpaid and the job is normally done by a volunteer and not a paid employee. Learn more about volunteering in the U.S. for nonimmigrants.
  • Travel – F-2 dependents may leave and re-enter the U.S. with the primary F-1 visa holder or independently so long as the primary F-1 status is valid. When entering the U.S., each F-2 dependent must present their own Form I-20 with a valid travel signature, F-2 visa (Canadian citizens excluded), and a passport valid for six months beyond the entry date.

Additional considerations for F-2 dependents Heading link

  • F-2 dependents are not eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).
  • F-2 status is contingent upon the primary F-1 visa holder maintaining their status. If the primary F-1 loses or ends their status, the F-2 is similarly affected. If the F-1 extends their status, the F-2 status is automatically extended as well.
  • Dependent children are no longer eligible for F-2 status at the age of 21. If you have an F-2 dependent nearing their 21st birthday, please contact OIS for guidance on their options.
  • F-2 dependents may remain in the U.S. with the primary F-1 visa holder during the 60 day grace period following the completion of an academic program or period of optional practical training. However, the F-2 dependent should depart the U.S. prior to or with the primary F-1.

Adding an F-2 dependent to your F-1 record Heading link

You may add a dependent to your F-1 record during the initial process of obtaining your UIC Form I-20 or after your arrival in the U.S. For more information about obtaining an initial I-20 for F-1 student status, visit getting started with the visa process.

  1. Confirm that your dependent meets F-2 eligibility requirements. Only your spouse and minor children under the age of 21 are eligible for F-2 status.
  2. Submit the Add Dependent E-Form in myOIS. The e-form will ask you to provide sufficient proof of funding for the F-2 dependent(s) along with copies of their passports. Note that the proof of funding cannot consist of income or savings in the name of the F-2 dependent. See international student funding and documentation requirements for more information on the amount of funding you will need to show and how to properly document your sources.
  3. Collect and sign your new I-20s. When the add dependent request is complete, OIS will contact you with options for receiving your new I-20s. You will receive a new I-20 for yourself and an I-20 for each of your dependents. Your dependent can now apply for an F-2 visa (Canadian citizens excluded) using their I-20 at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Immigration Check-In with OIS Heading link

Once your dependent has arrived in the U.S. you will need to submit the Dependent Check-In E-form in myOIS to confirm that they entered in the correct status.

Updating an F-2 dependent record Heading link

If your F-2 dependent receives updated immigration documents (e.g. passport, F-2 visa, I-94) while you are in active F-1 status, please submit the Immigration Document Update E-Form in myOIS.