F-2 Dependent Visa Holders

Recently, several clients have brought some of their questions regarding the F-2 Visa to our attention.

In order to clarify some of the answer to their questions, this post will review several of the most important topics and answers surrounding the F-2 Visa.

What is the F-2 dependent visa?

An F-2 visa is reserved for the legal dependents (a spouse and/or children) of an international student with an F-1 visa. Individuals with an F-2 visa are completely dependent on the status of the individual with the F-1 visa. For example, if the F-1 visa holder leaves the U.S. for an extended vacation, the F-2 visa holder must also leave.

How long can a dependent stay in the U.S. on an F-2 visa?

They are allowed to stay in the U.S. for as long as the individual with an F-1 visa has a valid F-1 status.

Can an individual on an F-2 visa study in the U.S.?

Yes and no.

For spouses: They are allowed to participate in part-time study in courses offered by an SEVP-certified school or studies that are recreational/vocational in nature. They are not allowed to engage in study towards a degree. To become a full-time student studying towards a degree, the spouse would need to change their F-2 status to an F-1 status. Only upon approval of the status change by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could the spouse engage in full-time study.

For children: They may attend elementary and secondary school.

Can an individual on an F-2 visa work in the U.S.?

No. They may not accept any employment within the U.S. They may accept a volunteer position only if the position has always been a volunteer position and always will be.

Can an individual on an F-2 visa travel outside of the U.S.?

Yes. If they are traveling outside the U.S. and plan to re-enter, they need to ensure they have a valid passport, a valid F-2 visa, and the proper I-20 form. The I-20 form must have a travel signature that is no older than 6 months.

If the planned trip is to Canada or Mexico, and lasts less than 30 days, a visa is not required due to the automatic revalidation process. If the F-2 visa holder applies for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico, and the application is still pending or been denied, they will not be able to re-enter the U.S. until a new visa approved.

Can an individual on an F-2 visa stay in the U.S. while the individual on the F-1 visa travels outside the U.S.?

Yes. As long as the individual with the F-1 visa remains in valid status, is only absent from the U.S. for a short period of time, and intends to return using the same SEVIS ID.

Can an individual on an F-2 visa apply for a Social Security number (SSN)?

No. Since they are not allowed to work, they are not eligible for an SSN.

However, the individual with the F-1 visa may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for their spouse and/or children for tax filing purposes. ITIN is an identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for individuals who do not have or are not eligible to obtain a SSN.

What happens if the individual with the F-1 visa changes or loses their status?

If the individual with the F-1 visa loses their status, all of their dependents with an F-2 visa also lose their status.

If the individual with the F-1 visa changes their status, all of their dependents with an F-2 visa will also need to change their status. Keep in mind that changes of status do not happen automatically, so it is very important that all individuals change their statuses at the same time to prevent any dependents from accidentally falling out of status.

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Disclaimer: Nothing in relation to the enclosed information should be construed and or considered as legal advice for any individual, entity, case, or situation. The following information is prepared for advertisement use only. The information is intended ONLY to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice on your specific situation, we encourage you to consult an attorney experienced in the area of Immigration Law.