Overview

An F-1 visa holder may apply for F-2 dependent status for their dependent if they can demonstrate their eligibility requirements for F-2 dependent status based on the U.S. definition of “Dependents”.

  • Please note that as of August 2013, federal laws permit a dependent I-20 to be issued for same-sex spouses.
  • Children must be under 21 and unmarried.
  • Girlfriends/boyfriends, fiancées, or common law (i.e., unmarried) living arrangements are currently not recognized by U.S. government agencies as being eligible for F-2 dependent status.
  • An F-2 dependent’s eligibility to stay legally in the U.S. depends upon the F-1 maintaining their legal status.

All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to gain entry to the United States.

How to Request an F-2 Dependent

  1. Gather the following required documents:
    • Valid Financial Affidavit with proof of funding. These documents must show that you can financially support yourself and your dependents in the U.S. – verification of an additional $4,800 per dependent. If you’re in F-1 status after graduation and no longer enrolled in courses you only need to show funds to cover the estimated living expenses for yourself and any dependents. In most cases, you will need estimated living expenses for 1 year.
    • Copy of your original marriage certificate for your spouse*
      • If this document is not in English, please provide a certified translation.
    • Copy of an original birth certificate for an unmarried child under 21 years old*
      • If this document is not in English, please provide a certified translation.
    • Copy of your dependent(s) passport
  2. Submit the Dependent Request Form with all required documents from #1.
    • If additional information or documentation is needed, a DSO will contact you directly by email or phone.
    • Once the office adds your dependent(s) to your SEVIS record, a new I-20 is issued to you and each of your accompanying dependents. You will receive an email from a DSO when your dependent(s) I-20 is ready.
  3. Provide your dependent(s) with the following documentation for their visa application.
    • New F-2(I-20) (original)
    • Your new I-20 (copy)
    • Your passport biographical page (copy)
    • Your F-1 visa stamp (copy)
    • Your I-94 card (copy of front and back side)
    • Financial documentation (e.g. bank statement; proof of graduate assistantship, a letter from employer or sponsor)
    • Your letter of invitation
  4. Once your dependent receives their I-20, they should contact their local U.S. Embassy/Consular Office and follow the procedures for F-2 visa application. There are two ways in which to apply for an F-2 visa:
    • Apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad. Enter the U.S. with an F-2 dependent I-20 using an approved F-2 visa. The new immigration status will be activated when they arrive or return to the U.S.
    • Apply for a change of status through USCIS. You must review the eligibility requirements and consult with an advisor to see whether this option is available for your dependent or not.
  5. When your dependent(s) arrives in Fort Kent, they must check in with a DSO and provide a copy of each dependent’s immigration documents.

How to Remove F-2 Dependent

F-2 dependents can be removed or terminated for the following reasons:

  • The child turns the age of 21
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Other reasons requested by the F-1 primary student

If you wish to have your F-2 dependent(s) removed from your F-1 SEVIS record, please follow these steps:

  1. Gather one of the following required documents:
    • Personal statement from F-1 primary student indicating the reason for F-2 removal
    • For a child: copy of Dependent Passport Biographical page(s)
    • For a spouse: Certified Divorce Certificate and a certified English translation
    • Proof of change of visa status (I-797C Approval Notice, Green Card, etc.)
    • Departure Stamp or Boarding Ticket
    • Certified Death Certificate and a certified English translation
  2. Submit the Dependent Request Form.
    • If additional information or documentation is needed, a DSO will contact you directly by email or phone.

Travel & Re-Entry

Dependents in F-2 generally need the same documents to re-enter the U.S. as the primary F-1 student.

F-2 dependents are not required to travel with the primary F-1. However, the F-2 dependent must carry the following documents as are necessary for re-entry to the US:

  • Valid passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of the re-entry to the US)
  • Valid F-2 visa in passport (except for dependents from Canada)
  • F-2 I-20 with a valid travel endorsement signature from DSO
    • Valid for one year if F-1 is currently an enrolled student
    • Valid for six months if F-1 is currently on approved post-completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension
  • Copies of the following F-1 documents:
    • I-20, passport, F-1 visa, I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    • If F-1 is on approved post-completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension, also include OPT I-20, EAD card, and proof of current employment or offer letter

Important Travel Reminders

  • Dependents are not required to travel with the primary F-1 student.
  • Dependents may remain in the U.S. without the primary as long as the F-1 maintains their current status and will return after a temporary absence (generally 30 days or less) using the same SEVIS ID number.
  • F-2 dependents who need a travel signature on their I-20 should contact umfk.iss@maine.edu to request a time to meet with a DSO to get their travel endorsement.

Employment & Social Security Number

F-2 dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S. under any circumstances. Since F-2 dependents are not permitted to work in the U.S., they are also not eligible for a social security number.

However, F-1 students can obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for F-2 dependents if it is needed for tax filing purposes. F-2 spouses and family members may also apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) via Form W-7, available through the Internal Revenue Service.

F-2 dependents may volunteer if their volunteer activities do not displace a paid position.

Studying in the U.S.

F-2 minor children are eligible to enroll in full-time studies in elementary or secondary schools. Maine State education law requires all children ages five through 18 to be enrolled in school. F-2 minor children must comply with compulsory education requirements (Kindergarten through 12th grade). Parents can choose to enroll their children in public schools or private schools. Public schools are free to attend, and most children in the Fort Kent area go to public schools.

If you choose to enroll your child in a public school, you must determine which school they will attend. Public schools in the US operate on a system called “districting,” which means that the neighborhood you live in most often dictates the school your child will attend. School districts draw boundaries in the general proximity of different elementary, middle, and high schools in their region to create distinctive areas, or “attendance zones,” for their schools. Your child will attend the elementary, middle, or high school for the attendance zone that covers your neighborhood.

F-2 spouses are eligible to enroll in part-time studies (degree, avocational, or recreational) at the postsecondary level in any certified program at a 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)]. At UMFK, F-2 dependents undergraduate levels are limited to a maximum of 11 credits, and those at the graduate level are limited to 8 credits. Please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website for more information.

F-2 dependents of F-1 students in the United States may study part-time. An F-2 dependent who wants to enroll full-time in a postsecondary academic or vocational study must apply for and obtain approval to change nonimmigrant status to F-1, J-1, or another status allowing full-time study before beginning their full-time study.

Health Insurance

F-2 dependents must obtain health insurance during their stay in the U.S. Please consult the table below to note the minimum coverage requirements.

ItemMinimum Coverage
Medical benefits$100,000
Repatriation of remains$25,000
Medical evacuation$50,000
Deductible per accident or illness$500
Minimum Health Insurance Coverage Requirements

Driver’s License & State ID

If the F-2 dependent wants to apply for a Maine driver’s license, the F-1 student must accompany them. Both the F-1 student and F-2 dependent must bring all the required documents, including a signed I-20, a valid passport and visa, proof of residence, and an SSN card or a Letter of Social Security Number Ineligibility (which can be requested from the Social Security Administration).

Extension of Stay

The lawful immigration status of all F-2 dependents is connected to the legal status of the primary F-1 visa holder. If an F-1 visa holder is granted a program extension, all F-2 dependents are granted the extension automatically. When the F-1 student is authorized for post-completion OPT, the F-2 dependent’s status is also extended through the authorized period of OPT. If the F-1 student/scholar falls out of status, the F-2 dependents are also.

Receiving Public Assistance

 

Changing Your Status

Change of Status to F-2

If your spouse or child is already inside the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status, there are two ways to change one’s status to F-2:

  • One way is to travel home or outside the U.S., apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate and re-enter the U.S. in the new status.
  • The other way is to submit a change-of-status application (Form I-539) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while remaining in the U.S. If your dependent will change their immigration status in the U.S., then you and your dependent should be sure you understand the Change of Status process. If, after reviewing the information, you would like to meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss the change-of-status application process, please get in touch with our office to schedule an appointment.

Changing Status From F-2 to F-1

There are two ways to change status to F-1 once F-2 dependents are admitted to an educational program.

  • Option 1: Lawful F-2 dependents may apply for a change of status to F-1 by filing Form I-539 with USCIS while remaining in the U.S.
  • Option 2: F-2 dependents may obtain an F-1 visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate Office (preferably in their home countries) and return to the U.S. as an F-1 student up to 30 days before the program start date.

Important Reminders about F-2 Status

Once the F-1 student has completed their studies and has left the U.S., the F-2 dependents must also leave.

Dependent children over age 21 are not eligible for 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 leaves the U.S., the F-2 dependents must also leave.

Report any changes to ISS: if your dependent departs the U.S. permanently or changes their immigration status, you must report their departure/change of status. Please email umfk.iss@maine.edu so we can remove them as a dependent from your record.

Additional Resources

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