If your dependent family members (spouse, dependent children under 21) will accompany you to the U.S., each dependent must be issued a form I-20 by MUSC and apply for an F-2 visa. You must inform CGH if your dependents will be accompanying you to the US or if your dependents will join you in the US at a later date. Oftentimes, F-1 students will travel to the US first while their dependents will plan to travel to the US to join them at a later date.
In addition, the student must prove that he/she can financially support the dependents. The minimum financial support required for dependents is an additional $500 USD per month for an F-2 dependent spouse and $300 USD per month for each F-2 dependent child. Before CGH can issue I-20s for your dependents, you must provide official documentation that proves that you can meet these financial requirements.
F-2 status is meant for spouses and/or children who intend on remaining in the United States for the duration of the F-1 student’s academic program. If your dependents do not intend on staying within the United States on an ongoing basis for the duration of your studies, and they will only visit for vacations or short stays, your dependents should apply for B-2 visitor visas or travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. You will not need to provide proof that you can meet the minimum financial requirements for dependents stated above if your dependents come to the US as B-2 visitors. However, your dependents will still need to show that they have adequate financial resources to support their stay in the US during the visa interview for a B-2 visa. For information on the B-2 visitor visa and the Visa Waiver Program, please refer to the following US Department of State information.
In order for CGH to issue an I-20 for a dependent, the F-1 student must provide the following documents to CGH:
- Copy of dependent’s biographic page of passport
- Copy of marriage certificate (for spouse) and birth certificate (for child), and translation
- Documents showing proof of financial support for dependents
Each dependent must apply separately for an F-2 visa using the I-20 issued for that particular individual. Dependents must complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application online and make a visa interview appointment. However, F-2 dependents do not need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. Dependents applying for an F-2 visa should be prepared to provide the following documents at the visa interview:
- Valid passport
- Valid form I-20
- DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page
- Visa application fee payment receipt
- Proof of relationship to principal F-1 status holder (i.e., marriage certificate, birth certificate)
- Financial evidence showing how the applicant will pay all living and travel costs while in the US
The US Department of State prefers that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately, they should bring a copy of the F-1 student’s passport and visa, along with the other required documents.
F-2 dependents are not eligible to work while in the US. In addition, F-2 spouses are not eligible to pursue a degree program while in the US. F-2 dependent children can participate in full-time education, as long as it is elementary through secondary school (which is kindergarten through 12th grade in the US).