Dependent Information

International students may have dependent(s) living with them during their study in the US. Dependents are defined as spouses and/or unmarried minor children. Children over the age of 21 are not eligible to enter as the dependent of an international student (F-1 or J-1 student). An international student’s dependents may apply for their F-2 or J2 visas at the same time that the international student applies for an F-1 or J-1 visa, or they may apply for their F-2 or J-2 visas at a later date. If they are granted the visa, they may enter the United States when the international student does, or they may enter the U.S. at a later date.

If you wish to bring a dependent to the U.S. please contact OISS to learn what information you need to submit to request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019. It is important to determine whether you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents. IUK requires additional proof of funds to support a spouse and/or each child in order to prepare the dependent I-20 or DS-2019(s). The U.S. government necessitates that all international students and their dependents present proof of financial resources to ensure they do not become a public charge. Please do research before making your decision as the cost for a dependent, especially child care, can be extremely expensive in the US.

  • If your family members are abroad and you want them to join you in the US, please complete the dependent e-form and submit it with the required documents listed on the form.
How to obtain F-2, J-2 Visa if applying separately from F1 or J1
Once the dependent I-20 or DS-2019 is received, the student should mail the document to his or her dependent(s). The dependent should make an appointment with the nearest U.S. Consulate to request an F-2 or J-2 visa. The dependents should bring a valid passport, dependent I-20 or DS-2019, proof of student’s relationship to them, e.g., marriage certificate translated into English, proof of birth for dependent children and proof of funding to the consular interview. Once the visa has been secured, dependents must each present a valid I-20 or DS-2019, a valid F-2/J-2 visa (except citizens of Canada) and a passport that is valid at least 6 months from the date of entry in order to successfully enter the U.S.
If your family members are already in the US on another visa type

You can change their status to F-2 or J-2, you should meet with an OISS advisor and complete a dependent e-form. In some cases it may not be possible to change status while in the US or there may be deadlines to consider.

  • IMPORTANT: Children born in the United States are US citizens. As such, they do not need to be in F-2, J-2 visa.
  • IMPORTANT: Please make your requests in a timely manner. OISS strives to complete your requests as soon as possible, but processing may take several weeks. Keep this in mind when making an appointment to apply for visa stamps at an US Embassy/Consulate, booking airline tickets, or meeting deadlines to change status in the US.
  • Inviting other family members

Frequently international students wish to invite their parents or other family members to the U.S. to attend graduation or for a visit. If parents or other members of an international student's family, including children over the age of 21, wish to enter the U.S. temporarily to visit the international student in the U.S., they may enter on a B-2 tourist visa. Students with F-1 and J-1 visas may request an invitation letter from OISS to send to a relative to assist them with applying for a B-2 visa.

The same rules apply to dependent travel as to travel by international students. A current travel endorsement is required for re-entry to the U.S. The dependent may not remain in the U.S. after the F-1/J-1 student is absent from the U.S. unless the absence is temporary (5 months or less).
Health Insurance
The cost of health care is extremely high in the U.S. All students and their dependents must be enrolled in an insurance plan that meets the minimum levels of coverage set by IU for the duration of their time in the U.S.  Dependent(s) must be enrolled as soon as they arrive.

An F-2 spouse or F-2 child may enroll in less than full time in any course of at an SEVP-certified school even if it leads to a completion of a degree program. An F-2 spouse desiring to engage in full-time study must apply for and obtain a change of non-immigrant classification to F-1 or J-1 status. Most importantly, F-2 spouses and children who wish to study for a degree at a U.S. college must change their status to F-1 before attending any classes. They may wish to apply for an F-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate outside the U.S, or change of status may be done while staying in the U.S. Students whose dependent wish to change their status should always seek guidance from the OISS office.

A J-2 dependent may study full time in the U.S. Unlike the student with an F-1 visa; students with a J-2 visa may study part-time or full-time. Students whose spouses wish to change their status should seek guidance from the OISS office.


F-2 dependents may not be employed in the US.

J-2 dependents may be employed in the US. In order to work in the US, J-2 dependents must apply for work authorization through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


F-2 dependents may participate in volunteer activities.

J-2 dependents may participate in volunteer activities.


All non-US citizens, including F-2 and J-2 dependents are required to keep their current US residential address up-to-date with the US federal government. To do this, please complete the form AR-11 within 10 days of establishing a new US residential address.

When Does F-2 or J-2 Status End?

F-2 and J-2 dependents are eligible to remain in the US as long as the F-1 or J-1 student remains in valid status. Once an F-1 has completed the program of study, the F-1 and F-2 dependents are eligible to stay in the US for up to 60 days. Once a J-1 has completed the program of study, the J-1 and J-2 dependents are eligible to stay in the US for up to 30 days.

Note the following situations where F-2 or J-2 status ends even if the F-1 or J-1 remains in valid status:

If F-1/F-2 spouses or J-1/J-2 spouses obtain a divorce, the F-2 or J-2 is no longer the dependent of the F-1 or J-1. The F-2 or J-2 cannot remain in the US on a dependent visa. The F-2 or J-2 should depart the US or, if eligible, apply for an alternate visa status prior to the finalization of the divorce.

If an F-2 or J-2 child marries or reaches the age of 21, s/he is no longer the dependent of the F-1 or J-1 parent. The F-2 or J-2 child cannot remain in the US on a dependent visa. The F-2 or J-2 should depart the US or, if eligible, apply for an alternate visa status in a timely manner.  Process of change of status generally is time consuming and need to be done ahead of the child’s 21st birthday.

Adapting to life in the U.S.

Prepare your spouse and children for life in the U.S. by sharing the information that you know about the U.S. Help your family to adjust their expectations and to keep open minds when they experience cultural differences.

If English is not your family’s first language, prepare your spouse and children by ensuring that they begin learning some English prior to moving to the U.S. Then make arrangements for more English training after they arrive in the U.S.

Discuss issues of loneliness and other symptoms of culture shock with your family prior to and after arriving in the U.S.

Help your family develop coping strategies. Even before you leave home, try consulting with others who have studied overseas or lived abroad. This may be helpful in preparing for the initial stress of relocating. Ask your friends and colleagues about their experiences and ways they resolved initial difficulties.

Support your spouse’s interests and activities in the U.S.

Help your children by acknowledging their negative feelings about the move, help them maintain their friendships and relationships with family in both countries, and give them something to look forward to during the move (a new privilege, possession or activity). Be aware that schools at home may have focused differently on educational topics and there may be gaps in your children’s education. You can help by providing supplemental teaching for your children at home, hiring a tutor, or securing extra books or software.

Remember that family members will need your time and attention, and you will need to find a way to balance those needs with your studies