Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the primary visa holder to the U.S. may receive F-2 or J-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S., as well as to extend their stay, is contingent upon the primary visa holder maintaining his/her legal status and extending his/her program in a timely manner.
All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor's visa to gain entry to the U.S. For more information on B-1/B-2 visitor visas for other family members, refer to Family Visitors to the U.S.
The spouse and minor children (under age 21) of the F-1 student may be admitted into the U.S. in F-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form I-20 issued in his or her own name and an F-2 visa.
Documents Needed to Apply for an F-2 Visa
Important Information about F-2 Status
Once the F-1 student has completed his or her studies and has left the U.S., the F-2 dependents must leave as well.
Dependent children over age 21 are no longer eligible to F-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) if they wish to stay in the U.S.
At the end of the F-1 program, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1/F-2 may stay in the U.S. Once the F-1 primary leaves the U.S., the F-2 dependents must leave as well.
The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment in the U.S. However, they may do volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the F-2 dependent is doing a job usually done by volunteers. For more information about U-M's policies on volunteer work, see U-M Volunteer Guidelines.
F-2 dependents of F-1 students in the United States may study part time at the postsecondary level in any certified program at an SEVP-certified school, as long as the study does not amount to what regulations define as full time for an F-1 student [defined in 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)].
F-2 dependents may also study full time in avocational or recreational studies, such as hobbies. F-2 minor children must comply with compulsory education requirements in attending kindergarten through 12th grade.
However, an F-2 dependent who wants to enroll full time in a course of postsecondary academic or vocational study must apply for and obtain approval to change nonimmigrant status to F-1, J-1, or M-1 before beginning their full-time study.
The spouse and minor children (under age 21) of the J-1 exchange visitor may be admitted into the U.S. in J-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form DS-2019 issued in his or her own name and a J-2 visa.
Documents required Needed to Apply for a J-2 Visa
Important information about J-2 Status
The status of the J-2 may be extended when the program and Form DS-2019 of the J-1 primary is extended.
A J-2 spouse or child may not be admitted for longer than the principal exchange visitor. After the program completion date on the Form DS-2019, the exchange visitor J-1 and the J-2 dependents may stay in the U.S. for an additional period of 30 days; this is called the grace period. During this time, they may travel within the U.S. but may not be employed.
Once the J-1 primary has completed his or her program and has left the U.S., the J-2 dependents must leave as well.
Immigration regulations require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents be covered by health insurance while participating in the exchange visitor program.
Dependent children over age 21 are no longer eligible for J-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) if they wish to stay in the U.S.
J-2 employment may be authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for the duration of the J-1 principal's authorized stay as indicated on Form I-94 and Form DS-2019 or a period of four years, whichever is shorter. However, most commonly, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued for a 12-month period and has to be renewed once a year. For information about U-M's policies on volunteer work, see U-M Volunteer Guidelines.
For more information on applying for an Employment Authorization, refer to J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization Document.
After obtaining the EAD, the J-2 spouse may apply for a Social Security Card and will be subject to federal and local income tax.
Currently there are no regulatory restrictions on study for J-2 dependents.
Last reviewed: 11/15