What is the F2 Dependent Visa?
The F2 visa is a non-immigrant visa available to immediate family members of F1 students. Only minor children (under the age of 21) and spouses of an F1 holder are eligible for this visa.
Their eligibility to obtain the visa and stay in the United States is tied directly to the primary F1 visa holder. This means they cannot enter the United States before the primary F1 visa holder and cannot stay beyond the period granted to the primary F1 visa holder.
As an international student, you can process an F1 visa and an F2 visa for your relatives at the same time. With this, they will be able to accompany you to the United States when you resume your academic program. Alternatively, F2 employees can process their applications separately and join you later.
F2-dependent nonimmigrant status only grants your relatives the right to live in the United States. They are not allowed to do paid work. They may, however, study part-time at the postsecondary level, as long as the study does not amount to what the guidelines define as full-time for an F1 student (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)). They can also engage in non-professional and recreational courses.
Eligibility criteria for F2 visa
To be eligible for a visa you must meet the following requirements:
- Be the spouse of an F1 student visa holder or the unmarried child of an F1 student visa holder under the age of 21
- Have the financial means to support your family while in the United States
- Please provide proof of family ties that shows you are willing to return to your home country at the end of the F1 study programme.
Documents necessary for applying for the F2 visa
- Valid passport
- Photographs taken recently
- The DS-160 form confirmation page
- Proof of financial means to support yourself in the United States (pay stubs, bank statements, tax documents, etc.)
- SEVIS Form I-20 dependent on F2
- Receipt of visa application fees
- Visa application forms
- Marriage certificate if you are applying as a spouse of an F1 holder
- Birth certificate if presented as the child of an F1 owner
F2 Visa Application Process
The F2 visa has several stages of the application process, as shown below:
Step 1: Obtain an I-20 form
- After gaining admission to study at an approved institution in the United States, the institution will issue an I-20 form to each F1 student. The form will contain all the necessary information about the course, including the duration of the course and the estimated costs.
- F1 students wishing to bring their dependents will need to inform the institution, providing details of the family members they wish to bring.
- The institution will also issue an I-20 for dependents, based on the information provided by the F1 student. Each dependent applying for an F2 visa must have an I-20 form. After receiving the form, they can now proceed to apply for the visa.
Step 2: Complete the DS-160 form
You will complete the DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application to apply for a visa to travel to the United States. The form must be completed online with all the necessary information and documents. The information you provide on the form and during the interview will be used to determine whether you are eligible for the visa.
After filling out the form, you need to perform the following steps:
- Print and save the barcode page. You do not need to print the entire DS-160 form, just the barcode page.
- Schedule a visa interview appointment. You will visit the website of the US consulate or embassy where you wish to interview. It is best to schedule the interview in a location closer to you, preferably in your country of residence.
- If you apply at the same time as the F1 applicant, you can schedule your visa interview to happen at the same time and place. But if you apply separately, you will need to schedule your interview.
- Pay the visa application fee. The F2 visa application fee is $160. Depending on your country of origin, other charges, such as reciprocity or visa fee, may also apply. You must make the required payment and be sure to keep your receipt.
Step 3: Attend the visa interview
The interview is usually the last and one of the most crucial stages of the F2 visa application process. Before the interview date, make sure to gather all the documents needed for the appointment. Make sure you arrive on time, answer questions correctly and truthfully. Most of the questions will primarily concern your relationship with the F1 visa holder and your intention to be in the United States with them. Your overall performance will largely determine whether the consular officer will approve or deny your application. If your visa application is approved, you can begin your travel plan to accompany or join your F1 spouse or parent in the United States.
Can I renew an F2 visa?
The F2 visa is renewable as long as the renewal requirements are met. However, as it is linked to F1 status, eligibility for renewal will depend on the F1 visa holder. In other words, you can only apply for a renewal if the F1 visa holder is also applying for a renewal.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will review the renewal application and determine whether the F1 holder and his or her F2 dependents should be granted a visa renewal. You should get a renewal as long as the F1 student has not completed their study program in the United States. But once you finish the course, you will need to start preparing to leave the United States.
Both F1 students and their dependents have a 60-day grace period to leave the United States after completing the program of study. Failure to depart within 60 days will amount to an illegal stay, which may affect your chances of qualifying for future immigration benefits in the United States.
Can an F2 visa holder get a green card?
The F2 visa is not a dual-intent status, meaning you cannot go directly from an F2 visa to a green card holder. However, there are other ways to become a green card holder.
For example, if your F1 spouse or parent qualifies and receives a green card, you will also automatically become eligible to obtain a green card.
Additionally, you can change the status of your F2 visa to another dual-intent nonimmigrant visa, such as an H1B visa. This will require you to have a job offer in the skilled occupation category and an employer to sponsor your H1B visa application. From H1B status, you can apply for a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States.
Can an F2 visa holder work?
F2 visa holders are not allowed to take paid jobs in the United States. However, they can engage in volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind and the work is usually carried out by volunteers.
Can an F2 visa holder study full time?
As an F2 holder, you can only study at post-secondary level part-time and your course does not have to equate to what the regulations define as full-time for international F1 students.
If you wish to enroll in full-time study, you must first apply for and obtain approval for a change of status to an appropriate visa, such as F1, J-1, or M-1 status. You must obtain approval before starting full-time study.
Can a dependent child maintain F2 status after turning 21?
If you turn 21 you will no longer be entitled to F2 status. You will have to change to another status such as F1, especially if you want to study in the USA.
What is the grace period of the F2 visa?
The grace period is the extra number of days given to F1 visa holders to leave the United States after completing the F1 study program. F1 students and their dependents must leave the United States within this grace period. As an F2 owner, you cannot stay longer than an F1 owner. Once the -1 visa holder leaves, you must leave too.
Are there travel restrictions for an F2 visa?
No, there are no travel restrictions associated with the F2 visa. You can travel inside and outside the EE. UU. always maintaining a valid migratory status.