Immigration Overview for Dependents

On This Page: Request a Dependent Document Establish Dependent Status • Maintain Status in the U.S.

Request a Dependent Document

To request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019 from International Student Services (ISS), submit the Dependent Document e-forms.

Required Documents

  • Copies of your dependents' passport biographical pages
  • Proof of relationship such as a marriage certificate (spouse) or birth certificate listing the parents' names (children)
  • Proof of funding for your own expenses for a year plus $8,000 for your spouse and $5,000 for each child
  • Proof of health insurance (J-2 dependents only - see below)

Establish Dependent Status

If your dependent is currently outside of the U.S., check with the specific U.S. consulate or embassy where they'll apply for F-2 or J-2 visa application requirements. If your dependent is in the U.S. and would like to apply for a change of status with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), meet with an international student advisor for more information.

Maintain Status in the U.S.

F-2 and J-2 dependents can stay in the U.S. as long as the F-1 or J-1 student is maintaining status. Dependents' statuses end when the F-1 or J-1 student's status ends due to record completion, termination for any reason, change of immigration status, divorce or turning 21 (children).


F-2 children can study full-time at the K-12 level (elementary, middle or high school). F-2 dependents may also enroll for less than a full course of study at a college, university or community college, even if that part-time study eventually leads to a degree or certificate. F-2 dependents who want to study full-time at the postsecondary level need to change to F-1 status. Meet with an international student advisor for more information.

There are no enrollment restrictions for J-2 dependents.

Learn more about educational opportunities for dependents.

Employment Authorization

F-2 dependents are prohibited from engaging in employment (paid or unpaid). Working without authorization can result in termination of the F-2 dependent.

J-2 dependents can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS to work in the U.S. The employment cannot be for the purpose of supporting the J-1. For more information, meet with an international student advisor.

Health Insurance

F-2 dependents are not required to carry health insurance, however, due to the high cost of healthcare in the U.S., we strongly encourage students to purchase insurance for any F-2 dependents.

J-2 dependents must carry health insurance at all times. Not carrying insurance that meets the minimum requirements is a violation of your status and can result in SEVIS record termination.

Page 2 of the DS-2019 explains the health insurance requirements:

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of exchange visitors to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • Deductibles not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

You must purchase private insurance for your J-2 dependents because they cannot be insured through Campus Health. When purchasing a private health insurance plan, make sure it meets the requirements above. Most insurance plans do not include repatriation and medical evacuation, so you might have to purchase additional coverage.

Learn more about private health insurance options.


After initially entering the U.S. in F-2 or J-2 status, if your dependents want to travel and reenter the U.S., they should be prepared to present the same documents that are required for you as the F-1 or J-1 primary (see Travel).

To request a travel signature for your dependent, submit the Travel Signature e-form. You can indicate in the e-form whether you are requesting a travel signature for yourself, your dependents or both.

Special Considerations:

  • Children under 18 traveling without both parents or legal guardian may need a notarized letter of consent (preferably in English).
  • Your dependents can travel without you as long as you are maintaining status as the F-1 or J-1 primary. Meet with an international student advisor if you have questions about your status.
  • If you are on OPT and your dependents are traveling without you, they should carry a copy of your F-1 I-20 with the page 2 annotations for OPT and/or employment authorization document (EAD).