F-1 students may bring their spouse and/or unmarried, minor (under age 21) children to the United States in F-2 status. No other relatives are eligible for F-2 status. To be admitted to the United States in F-2 status, F-2 dependents are required to have a dependent Form I-20 and F-2 visa.
Teachers College will issue separate Form I-20s to any eligible F-2 dependents of an F-1 student. You may make a request for I-20s for your F-2 dependents through TC-Compass any time prior to or after your arrival at Teachers College.
Obtaining a Form I-20 for F-2 Dependents
In order to request F-2 sponsorship for your dependents, you will need to complete the Add a New Dependent form via TC-Compass and submit the following documents:
- Passport Identification Page: Copy of your dependent’s passport identity page. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future.
- Financial Documents: Evidence of readily available funds to support your dependent’s living expenses (a minimum of $1,000 per month per dependent). Financial documents must be issued within the last three months. If funding is coming from someone other than yourself, the individual must provide an affidavit of support.
Obtaining an F-2 Visa
To be admitted to the United States in F-2 status, F-2 dependents are required to have a valid F-2 visa (except for Canadian citizens). F-2 visas must be applied for at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the United States.
Each applicant must present the consular officer with a dependent Form I-20 (issued from Teachers College) and other documents that may be required to demonstrate eligibility for F-2 status, such as proof of relationship to the F-1 student and a copy of the F-1 student's Form I-20. Since consulates and embassies differ in their procedures, you should go to their website for instructions about application fees, procedures, and time frames.
I-901 SEVIS Fee
F-2 dependents do not have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. The I-901 SEVIS fee should not be confused with the DS-160 fee which is the visa application processing fee.
Restrictions on F-2 Status
F-2 dependents are allowed to accompany the F-1 student for the duration of their lawful stay in the United States. However, F-2 dependents are subject to certain immigration restrictions.
- Individuals holding F-2 status are not allowed to work in the U.S. under any circumstances
- An F-2 dependent spouse may not enroll in full-time study. However, they may enroll in part-time study at an SEVP certified school and/or take classes that are recreational or avocational (not professional). Examples of recreational courses include short-term English language lessons or arts and crafts classes. An F-2 dependent spouse must change to F-1 status if they wish to pursue an academic (degree) program in full-time status
- F-2 dependent children may enroll in elementary or secondary education as appropriate
- F-2 children lose F-2 status upon turning 21
- F-2 dependents lose F-2 status if the F-1 student completes or otherwise ends their status
- Upon completion of the F-1 program, F-1 students enter their 60 days grace period during which the F-1 and F-2 dependent(s) must prepare for departure from the U.S. Once the F-1 student departs the U.S., the F-2 dependent must also depart the U.S.
Travel in F-2 Status
F-2 dependents may travel outside of and re-enter the United States together with or separately from the F-1 student. In all cases, F-2 dependents should carry the following documents in order to request F-2 status upon arriving in the United States:
- An unexpired passport valid for at least six months into the future upon arrival
- A Form I-20 issued in the F-2 dependent's name with a travel signature from the OISS. The F-1 student should submit a travel signature request on behalf of F-2 dependents. (Travel signatures are issued after the F-1/F-2 have arrived and are not necessary for new arrivals)
- A copy of the F-1's signed Form I-20 (necessary only if traveling separately from the F-1)
- An unexpired F-2 entry visa (exception: Canadian citizens are not required to obtain visas)
Tax Filing Obligations
F-2 dependents have tax filing obligations. F-2 dependents are required to file the Internal Revenue Service Forms such as the Form 8843, at minimum, every April, to reflect the time they spent in the United States in F-2 status for the previous calendar year. For example, Form 8843 should be filed in April 2023 for the calendar year January - December 2022.