F-2 Visa Status for Dependent Family Members

F-2 visa status is for spouses and/or minor children who will accompany you the F-1 student to the United States and remain in the United States on a full-time basis for the duration of the academic program. Note that F-2 visa status is only available for spouses and children under 21 years old. F-2 visa status is not available for other relatives, such as parents or siblings.

If your dependent family members will accompany you to the US, each dependent must be issued a Form I-20 by MUSC. In addition, each dependent must apply for an F-2 visa.

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 F-2 dependents 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, refer to the US Department of State website.

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).

Requesting Dependent I-20 Forms

You can request dependent I-20 forms during the processing of your initial F-1 sponsorship application or at a later time during your active F-1 program. You must be able to prove that you can financially support your F-2 dependents. The minimum financial support required for dependents is an additional $6000 per year ($500 per month) for an F-2 spouse and $3600 per year ($300 per month) for each F-2 child. Before CGH can issue I-20 forms for your dependents, you must provide official documentation that proves that you can meet these financial requirements for at least one full year.

Request Dependent I-20 with Initial I-20 Application

You will have the opportunity to request I-20 forms for your dependents during the processing of your Initial I-20 application in the Terra Dotta system. Instructions for doing so will be provided within the system.

You will be required to upload the following documents related to your dependents with this request:

  • Copy of biographic page of dependent’s passport
  • Copy of marriage certificate (for spouse) and birth certificate (for child), and certified English translation

In addition, you must include the dependent expenses on the F-1 Declaration of Finances form and provide supporting financial documentation. You should contact the college administrator to ensure that he/she includes the dependent expenses in the estimated expenses section of the F-1 Declaration of Finances form. The minimum financial support required for dependents is an additional $6000 per year for an F-2 spouse and $3600 per year for each F-2 child.

Request Dependent I-20 During Active Program

If you are currently an F-1 student in active status and you want your spouse or children to join you in the US as F-2 dependents, you must submit the Dependent Request through your Terra Dotta portal. 

You will be required to upload the following documents with this request:

  • Copy of biographic page of dependent’s passport
  • Copy of marriage certificate (for spouse) and birth certificate (for child), and certified English translation
  • Documents showing proof of financial support for dependents for one year ($6000 for spouse, $3600 for each child)

If your request is approved, you will be notified once the dependent I-20 forms have been processed. The forms will be mailed to your home address in the US. You must then send the original forms to your dependents in your home country.

F-2 Visa Application

Each F-2 dependent must apply separately for an F-2 visa. Dependents will not be able to apply for an F-2 visa at the US embassy or consulate until they have received the F-2 Form I-20 from MUSC.

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 should refer to the website of their specific US consulate or embassy for further instructions on the documents and information required for an F-2 visa application.

The US Department of State prefers that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time. However, if the F-2 spouse and children must apply separately, the dependents should bring a copy of the F-1 student’s passport and visa along with the other required documents.