Dependents of F-1 students include spouses and children, and dependents are allowed to stay in the U.S. in F-2 status for the duration of the F-1 student's study, including any post-completion OPT time.
Who Qualifies as a Dependent?
Dependents can be:
- Legally married spouses* of the F-1
- Children of the F-1
Dependents cannot be:
- Unmarried domestic partners or significant others*
- Parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or any other relative
- Anyone other than legally married spouses and children
*What is a 'Spouse'?
For immigration purposes, a spouse is someone who is legally married under the applicable laws of a given country or U.S. state. If you got married in a country or state that recognizes your marriage as legal, you have access to dependent benefits under immigration law. When your dependent applies for their visa they will need to show proof of the legal marriage to the embassy.
A partner is someone who is not married but is in a relationship that may or may not be recognized in a legal framework. Legally recognized partnerships include civil unions (e.g. some states in the U.S.), registered or civil partnerships (e.g. Australia), and stable unions (e.g. Brazil). Such partnerships are not considered marriages for purposes of U.S. immigration law and someone who is in such a partnership is not eligible for a dependent status.
- Are not allowed to work or have any kind of employment
- Can volunteer, as long as it is a bona fide volunteer position.
- Children may engage in full-time study if the study is kindergarten through 12th grade.
- Adult dependents can enroll in recreational courses, or part-time in degree-seeking programs. Full-time study in a degree-seeking program is prohibited in F-2 status. If the F-2 wishes to study full-time in a degree seeking program, they will need to obtain their own F-1 status.
Adding a Dependent to Your F-1 SEVIS Record
F-2 dependents are added to the F-1 SEVIS record and given their own I-20. They use the I-20 to apply for an F-2 visa at an embassy or consulate abroad, or to apply to change status in the U.S. Most F-1 students add their dependents to a SEVIS record during the admissions process, but if you need to add a dependent to a record later, that is not a problem.
To add a dependent, login to the iConnect Student Portal below and submit the F-2 Dependent Request eForm. To complete the eForm you will need to upload:
- Dependent's biographical data passport page(s).
- Bank statement or other evidence of financial resources showing at least $5000 if adding a spouse and/or $2500 for each individual child you wish to add.
Once we receive your submission, we will give you a new I-20 showing your updated financial information, as well as the dependent(s) I-20 within one week. The F-2 dependent I-20 must be signed by you--the student--not your dependent. If your dependent is applying for the F-2 visa, send your dependent the I-20 in addition to other information required by the U.S. embassy for issuance of the F-2 visa. If your dependent is applying for a change of status within the U.S., follow the instructions to file an I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” with USCIS or talk to an international student advisor in our office.