Who Is Eligible?
If you are studying at UT with F-1 visa status, your spouse and unmarried children (under age 21) are eligible to apply for F-2 visas. As long as you maintain your F-1 status, your dependents may remain in the United States.
How Do I Add an F-2 Dependent Through myIO?
Provide Poof of Funding
Provide proof of funding in the form of a bank statement and/or departmental offer letter that covers your tuition and fees (if a student), as well as living expenses for you and your dependents for an entire year. The funding document should be less than 1 year old at the time of application.
Dependent funding amounts:
Spouse = $9,800
Each child = $4,300
Provide Official Documentation
Provide official documentation for your dependent(s), such as copies of their passport(s), indicating their:
Date of birth
Country of birth
Country of citizenship
Whether they are a child or spouse
What Happens Next?
An advisor will review the documentation you uploaded in myIO and issue a new I-20 for you and your dependents. Your dependents will then present the I-20 when they apply for an F-2 visa in your home country. They should also present copies of your immigration documents (I-20, passport, visa, and proof of enrollment or admission, financial support, SEVIS fee receipt for primary visa holder) during the visa appointment. In addition to a valid passport and visa, your dependents will need to show their dependent I-20 upon entry to the United States.
Note: If you are requesting a change of status to F-2 within the United States, the basic process is outlined in the page: Change of Visa Status to F-2. Please speak to an advisor about the change of status procedure if you have any questions.
F-2 Status Maintenance and Restrictions
The validity of the F-2 visa status depends on the status of the F-1 primary visa holder. If the F-1 primary visa holder changes status or loses F-1 status, the F-2 visa holder will also lose F-2 status.
F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work while in the U.S. F-2 visa holders may volunteer, as long as the position is unpaid and cannot be considered employment. Please check with an international student advisor before getting started if you have any questions.
Although F-2 dependents are not eligible to work, they must file tax Form 8843 annually. F-1 primary visa holders are eligible to use the GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to prepare their U.S. tax return, which will include Form 8843 for dependents. To file Form 8843, an F-2 dependent may need to request an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Please contact the tax advisor if you have any questions about applying for an ITIN.
F-2 dependents are eligible for the following benefits of their status:
If you have a child (under the age of 21) who you wish to bring to the United States in F-2 status, they are eligible to enroll in elementary or secondary school. You can find information on the Austin Independent School District on their website. Look under “Schools” and click on “Find Your Assigned Schools” to see where your child should be attending. Children generally attend school if they are the age 18 or under.
However, F-2 dependents are only eligible to attend post-secondary education at a part-time rate. This means below 12 hours for an undergraduate student, under 9 hours for a graduate student, or under 18 clock hours in an English Language Program.
F-2 dependents are eligible for less than full time study. Less than full time study would be below 12 hours for an undergraduate student, under 9 hours for a graduate student, or under 18 clock hours in an English Language Program. Additionally, F-2 dependents are eligible to study English. If the F-1 student is a UT Faculty, Staff, or Scholar, then the F-2 is eligible for a UT affiliate discount on English Language Center tuition.
Health insurance is optional for F-2 dependents. If you are interested in purchasing health insurance for a dependent, please contact the insurance advisor for assistance.
Travel in F-2 Status
F-2 dependents of F-1 students will need to have a valid travel signature on their I-20 to return to the U.S. after international travel. To get a travel signature, please visit our office during advising hours, no appointment needed. Our office will need to know the EID of the F-1 primary visa holder in order to grant a travel signature.
Change of Status to F2
Individuals who hold their own primary visa status may be eligible to change to F-2 visa status if married to a person in valid F-1 status, or a child under the age of 21 who has a parent in valid F-1 status. This process will go through the F-1 student's status or through the F-1 student's school. If the F-1 is a student at another school, then this process will have to be discussed with that school's international office.
A change of status to F-2 can be filed to USCIS with the assistance of Texas Global. Processing times can take many months so plan early. Your dependent must maintain their underlying status until their Change of Status to F-2 is approved.
Filing a Change of Status by Application
Bring the following to your scheduled appointment with an international student advisor at Texas Global:
- Passport, visa, Form I-94 and any other documents verifying your current status (e.g. I-797, DS-2019, I- 20, EAD cards, SEVIS Fee receipt).
- A letter written to USCIS explaining why you are requesting a change to F-2 status (e.g. that you will soon complete your program and wish to stay in the U.S. to accompany your F-1 spouse, or that you have a work visa status and wish to change to a dependent of your spouse). The letter should include your brief immigration history (how you originally came to the US and whether you have changed status before).
- Evidence of financial support that is equal to or more than the amount that will appear on the primary visa holder’s (F-1) I-20. Examples include a student’s bank statement, a sponsor’s bank statement accompanied by a letter from the sponsor accepting financial responsibility for the student, a letter of appointment (for TA’s, GA’s, etc.) detailing the financial award, or a combination of any of the above.
- Form I-539
- If you are currently a student, obtain a transcript or enrollment letter.
- If changing from H-1B or L-1 status, obtain a letter verifying current employment and pay stubs for the last three months of employment.
- You will also need copies of the principal visa holder’s F-1 documentation including passport, visa, Form I-94 and any other type of immigration form (e.g. I-20, DS-2019, I-797, etc.). Additional documents that may be required include marriage certificate (if dependent spouse) or birth certificate (if dependent child) as well as: Transcript of F-1 student; Receipt showing payment of the SEVIS Fee.
- Check or money order made out to “Department of Homeland Security” for $455.00.
- Form I-20 (provided by ISSS).
We will review your application and then you will submit it to USCIS. Processing time can take up to 6-12 months or more depending on USCIS processing times. We will contact you when the documents have been returned to our office.
Change of Status to F-2 by Travel
Please schedule an advising appointment with Texas Global and bring:
- Passport of spouse or child
- Evidence of financial support that is equal to or more than the amount that will appear on the primary visa holder's (F-1) I-20. Examples include a student's bank statement, a sponsor's bank statement accompanied by a letter from the sponsor accepting financial responsibility for the student, a letter of appointment (for TA's, GA's, etc.) detailing the financial award, or a combination of any of the above. This must be from within the last year and must also include enough support for the F-1 dependent.
- New I-20s will be issued for both the F-1 and F-2. The original F-2 I-20 must then be used to request an F-2 visa outside the U.S. at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate office.** The F-2 should take copies of the F-1 documents in support of getting the F-2 visa (if not going to be with the F-1 student at the time of visa application). Additional documents that may be required include marriage certificate (if dependent spouse) or birth certificate (if dependent child).
- The dependent will then use the F-2 visa to enter the U.S. along with the F-2 I-20 and a valid passport.
- The status is not changed until the dependent has reentered the United States with the F-2 I-20 and an F-2 visa.**
- After returning to the United States in F-2 status, please review and print the I-94 information. The new I-94 record must indicate the status as F-2 with the admit until date showing as D/S.
A note about traveling to Canada or Mexico. Be sure that upon return to the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection officer gives the F-2 dependent a new I-94 record to indicate the new F-2 status. If the F-2 is not given a new I-94 record that indicates F-2 status, they will be required to travel again to obtain the proper status.
**Canadian Citizens are not required to have an F-2 visa stamp in their passport.