F-2 AND J-2 VISA SPONSORSHIP
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:
- apply for F-2/J-2 outside of the U.S. at a U.S. Consulate or
- change from their current visa status within the United States to F-2/J-2 visa status.
APPLYING FOR DEPENDENT VISA ABROAD
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:
- 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 their F-2/J-2 dependents – Please complete the Student Dependent Application and submit it to ISSS with the required proof of funding
- 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.
- Complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
- 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)].
- 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.
CHANGE-OF-STATUS INSIDE THE U.S.
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.
ISSS cannot complete the Change-of-Status petition for you. ISSS strongly advises you to seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to represent you in applying for a Change-of-Status to F-2 or J-2 dependent status. A list of immigration attorneys can be found on https://ailalawyer.com/. General guidance for applying to USCIS for a Change-of-status can be found on the USCIS Website.
I-539 PETITIONS FOR CHANGE-OF-STATUS ARE SLOW: Please be aware that Change-of-Status petitions take a very long time to process – as long as 6 – 10 months at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (check I-539 Processing times for the Vermont Service Center).
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 they travel beyond North America (see Student Travel Requirements page).
IMPORTANT NOTES REGARDING MAINTAINING CURRENT VISA STATUS, BRIDGING STATUS, AND B-1/B-2 APPLICANTS:
- If you are currently on a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa Status and you want to apply to change status to an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa status, 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.
- USCIS now requires someone in another visa status to maintain their 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 dependent status, you must either maintain your current visa status until a decision is made or file I-539 petitions to change to or extend B-1/B-2 status while the Change-of-Status to F-2 or J-2 is pending. See USCIS’s Special Instruction Page for more information.
STEPS TO OBTAIN F-2/J-2 STATUS INSIDE THE U.S.
- 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 their F-2/J-2 dependents – Please complete the Student Dependent Application and submit it to ISSS with the required proof of funding.
- ISSS cannot complete the Change-of-Status petition for you. ISSS strongly advises you to seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to represent you in applying for a Change-of-Status to F-2 or J-2 dependent status. A list of immigration attorneys can be found on https://ailalawyer.com/. General guidance for applying to USCIS for a Change-of-status can be found on the USCIS Website.
- Generally, the F-2/J-2 Applicant must file the following with USCIS (Send the application to the appropriate USCIS filing address as indicated in the instructions for form I-539):(a) Form I-539: “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status” and Form I-539A for each F-2/J-2 dependent co-applicant (available at http://www.uscis.gov/i-539)
(b) I-539 Application Fee and additional Biometrics Fee for each F-2/J-2 dependent applicant/co-applicant – Checks should be made payable to Department of Homeland Security
(c) Copy of F-2 I-20/J-2 DS-2019(s)
(d) Copy of Passport Identification Pages
(e) Copy of Current/ most recent Visa Stamp
(f) Copy of I-94 record
(g) Copy of other visa documents, etc.
(h) Copies of marriage license, birth certificates, other family records which establish relationship with the F-1/J-1 visa holder
(i) Copies of the F-1/J-1 visa holder’s I-20/DS-2019, Passport Identification Pages, Visa Stamp, I-94 Record, etc.
DEPENDENTS AND STUDY
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: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/trends-and-improvements/policy/f-2-m-2-part-time-study-guidance
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.
DEPENDENTS AND EMPLOYMENT
F-2 DEPENDENTS AND EMPLOYMENT
F-2 dependent spouses and children may not work under any circumstances and are not eligible for Social Security Numbers. However, based on Department of Labor regulations, F-2 dependents may volunteer, usually on a part-time basis, for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, not as employees and without contemplation of pay. They must not be considered employees of the religious, charitable or similar non-profit organizations that receive their service. From: https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/whd/flsa/docs/volunteers.asp.
Information on F-2 sponsorship and limitations can be found here: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/dependents.
J-2 DEPENDENT EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION
J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization, so long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1. Financial need is not a criterion for employment authorization of a J-2 dependent.
“Income from the spouse’s or dependent’s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.” 8 C.F.R. S 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)
Application Procedure – Applications for employment authorization are made to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the J-2’s place of residence. Processing generally takes 3 months. J-2 dependents may not work until USCIS approves the employment authorization and issues a valid EAD Card.
J-2 Dependents who wish to apply for Employment Authorization should submit the following to USCIS:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization – available at http://www.uscis.gov/i-765
- I-765 filing fee (currently – $410.00): Check or money order payable to Department of Homeland Security.
IMPORTANT: You must check the UCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/i-765 to be sure of the current, correct filing fee; USCIS filing fees are subject to sudden change.
- 2 passport style photos; photos must meet frontal passport specifications and should be on a white background
- Copies of the current DS-2019 of both the J-1 and J-2
- Copy of passport information page, visa page, and I-94 Record for both J-1 and J-2
- Letter from J-2 stating why the employment is desired, indicating the source and amount of financial support for the J-1, and specifically stating that the income that the J-2 will derive from employment will not be used for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor.