What is an F-2 Visa?

family packing their luggage

Many international students aspire to attend educational institutions in the United States. However, the thought of leaving their loved ones behind can be distressing. Fortunately, if you are on an F-1 student visa, you may have the option of bringing your dependents with you. An F-2 visa grants dependents of F-1 student visa holders the ability to reside in the U.S. while they complete their degree program at an approved college or university. Please continue reading to learn the eligibility requirements for the F-2 visa and how our adept Essex County Family Immigration Attorneys can help guide you through each step of this complex legal process. 

Who is Eligible for an F-2 Visa?

Before a foreign national can apply for their dependents to enter the U.S., they must first apply to an educational institution that is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to obtain an F-1 student visa. Once granted admission, the designated school official (DSO) will provide the F-1 student with Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status.” In this form, The F-1 foreign national can indicate that they wish to apply for F-2 visa status for their dependents. The F-2 dependent visa is reserved for eligible immediate relatives of F-1 visa holders. To qualify for this type of visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be the spouse of an approved F-1 visa foreign national
  • Be the unmarried child under the age of 21 years old of an approved F-1 visa foreign national
  • Have the financial capacity to support your dependents stay in the U.S.

All other family members will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor’s visa to come to the U.S. It’s crucial to note that your dependent’s F-2 status is contingent on whether you maintain your legal status. Essentially, their eligibility is based on the status of your F-1 visa. This means that once the F-1 visa holder completes their studies and has left the country, the F-2 dependents must also go.

How Do I Apply?

If you are an F-1 visa holder who plans to bring your spouse and minor children to the U.S. during your international studies, you can ask the DSO to issue Form I-20 for each family member who intends to travel with you. Each dependent must file Form DS-160, “Non-immigrant Visa Application,” and pay the applicable fees. In addition, each dependent will need to schedule an interview with the U.S. consulate or embassy. The application must include all the support documents that prove your identity and relationship with the F-1 visa holder. The processing time for the F-2 dependent visa can vary. However, you typically can expect to receive an official decision within one to two weeks after your immigration interview.

If you’re an F-1 visa holder, it’s in your best interest to connect with a determined attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq., who can help you navigate toward your goals of obtaining F-2 dependent status for your loved ones.