Only the spouse and minor children (under age 21) who accompany the primary visa holder to the U.S. may receive F-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 Information for inviting dependents, relatives and or friends to the U.S.

F-2 Dependents

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. To request an I-20 for your dependents:

  • Complete the Request to Invite Dependents E-Form via My OIS
  • Complete the Certification of Financial Responsibility E-Form via My OIS
  • The dependent I-20(s) will be ready within 5 business days of receipt of all materials. OIS will notify you by email when ready for pick up.

Documents Needed to Apply for an F-2 Visa

  • Valid passport
  • Photographs (Passport Photo Size Requirements are listed here.)
  • F-2 dependent SEVIS Form I-20
  • Visa application fee
  • Visa application forms
  • Supporting documentation, including copies of the F-1 student’s immigration documents, proof of student status, and financial documentation.

Important Information about F-2 Status

After your dependent(s) arrive in Pittsburgh, please provide us with a copy of their: passport biographic page(s), visa stamp(s), & I-94(s). You can upload these documents in My OIS (select Biographical Information and then choose Update Immigration Documents).

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 not eligible for F-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) prior to their 21st birthday if they wish to remain 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.


Effective May 29, 2015, F-2 dependents may participate in part-time study in any certified program at a school certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), so long as the study does not amount to what regulations define as full time for an F-1 student.

The amended regulations still allow F-2 dependents to participate up to full time in vocational or recreational studies, such as hobbies.

F-2 children can attend kindergarten through 12th grade full time.

However, an F-2 dependent who wants to enroll full time in a course of post-secondary academic or vocational study must apply for and obtain approval to change their nonimmigrant classification to F-1 before beginning their full-time study.

Read the final rule: 80 FR 23680 (April 29, 2015) .

Return to F-1 page.