Student Dependent F-2/J-2 Visa

If you have a spouse or child(ren), but they did not come with you to the University of Alabama, or if you have married or had a child born abroad since coming to the U.S.,  or if your spouse and children are currently in the United States in another visa status, you may sponsor your dependent(s) join you on an F-2/J-2 dependent visa.

Please complete and submit the Student Dependent Application with the required proof of funding to have International Student and Scholar Services prepare either an F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019 for your dependent spouse or child(ren) . Follow the instructions to request your dependent(s)’ new immigration document(s).

NOTE: To invite other relatives or friends to visit you (e.g. a parent, sibling, cousin, or friend), please read our page on Inviting Family to Visit.

Once ISSS has prepared an F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019, there are two separate ways for a dependent spouse or child to apply for F-2/J-2 status: (1) apply for F-2/J-2 outside of the U.S. at a U.S. Consulate or (2) change from their current visa status within the United States to F-2/J-2 visa status.

DEPENDENTS CURRENTLY OUTSIDE THE U.S.
If the dependent spouse or child is currently outside of the United States, the dependent must apply for an F-2/J-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy using the following guidelines:

  1. F-1/J-1 student must first get an F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019 prepared by International Student and Scholar Services for his F-2/J-2 dependents – Please complete the Student Dependent Application and submit it to ISSS with the required proof of funding
  2. F-2/J-2 Visa applicants should check the website of the US Consulate or Embassy for instructions on how to apply for a U.S. Visa.  Contacts of Consulates and Embassies can be found at http://usembassy.state.gov/.  F-2/J-2 applicants should check the site for specific details about how to set the visa appointment and what additional information may be required for the visa interview and then should schedule an interview for a visa interview.
  3. Complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
  4. Pay the visa application fee by following instructions on your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s web site [please note that you do not have to pay a SEVIS Fee for F-2/J-2 dependent spouse or child(ren)].
  5. Prepare and bring to your visa interview the following:
    (a)  A passport valid for at least six months
    (b)  Supporting visa documentation (F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019)
    (c)  Completed DS-160 visa application
    (d)  One 2”x 2” photograph in the prescribed format: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/photos/photos.html
    (e)  A receipt for the visa application fee
    (f)  Financial evidence that shows the F-1/J-1 student has sufficient funds to cover the F-2/J-2’s living expenses while in the U.S.
    (g)  Any additional information listed on the consulate’s web site.

DEPENDENTS CURRENTLY INSIDE THE U.S. WHO WISH TO CHANGE STATUS
For sponsorship of dependents who are already in the US to obtain F-2/J-2 status, the F-2/J-2 will have to file a petition to change status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

NO TRAVEL DURING CHANGE-OF-STATUS: Once the I-539 Change-of-Status petition is submitted to USCIS, the F-2/J-2 applicant cannot leave the United States for any reason.  If the F-2/J-2 leaves the U.S., even for a Caribbean Cruise, the I-539 petition will be considered “abandoned,” and the case will be cancelled by USCIS.  Only once the I-539 Change-of-Status petition has been approved will the F-2/J-2 be able to travel internationally.  Also, please be aware that the I-539 petition approval is not a visa stamp; so, the F-2/J-2 dependent will need to apply for a new visa stamp at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate the next time he/she travels beyond North America (see Student Travel Requirements page).

IMPORTANT NOTES FOR B-1/B-2 VISA HOLDERS: If the F-2/J-2 applicant is currently on a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa Status and wants to apply to change status to an F-2 or J-2 visa status, he/she needs to be aware of two important regulations.

  1. First, applying for a Change-of-Status within the first 90 days of entry to the U.S. in B-1/B-2 status will likely result in a denial and will be considered fraudulent entry based on a misrepresentation of status based on 9 FAM 302.9-4(B)(3)(g)(2) Inconsistent Conduct Within 90 Days of Entry.  This change to the Foreign Affairs Manual was published on September 20, 2017. 
  2. Second, USCIS now requires someone in a B-1/B-2 status to maintain B-1/B-2 status continuously while awaiting a Change-of-Status.  This means that in addition to filing an I-539 petition to change status to F-2 or J-2 student status, the B-1/B-2 visa holder must also file I-539 petitions to extend B-1/B-2 status while the Change-of-Status is pending.  See USCIS’s Special Instruction Page for more information.

STEPS TO OBTAIN F-2/J-2 STATUS INSIDE THE U.S.

  1. F-1/J-1 student must first get an F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019 prepared by International Student and Scholar Services for his F-2/J-2 dependents – Please complete the Student Dependent Application and submit it to ISSS with the required proof of funding
  2. File a form I-539 (available at http://www.uscis.gov/i-539) with the following:
    (a) F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019
    (b) Check for $370 made payable to Department of Homeland Security
    (c) Copy of Passport Identification Pages
    (d) Copy of Current/ most recent Visa Stamp
    (e) Copy of I-94 Card (FRONT AND BACK) (if you have an electronic I-94 card and not a paper card, please print a copy of the current card from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home)
    (f) Copy of other visa documents, etc.
    (g) Copies of the F-1/J-1 visa holder’s I-20/DS-2019, Passport Identification Pages, Visa Stamp, I-94 Card, etc.

If you intend to have your spouse or child file for a change-of-status by submitting the I-539 to USCIS, please set an appointment to meet with an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services.

F-2 DEPENDENTS AND STUDY
F-2 adults (spouses and children who have completed high school) can enroll only in a part-time course of study in either a degree or non-degree program at university.

F-2 minor children are allowed to study in K-12 full-time with no problems.

Information on F-2 enrollment limitations can be found here: http://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2015/dsoLimitsDependentStudyFAQs.pdf.

J-2 DEPENDENTS AND STUDY
The J-2 spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor visa holder who are in the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa may study in the U.S. without being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa or change to F-1 status.  J-2s enrolled at university may study part-time or full-time in either a degree or non-degree program.