Bringing Your Family
You can bring your spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 with you to the United States as dependents.
If they will arrive with you initially, you should request their immigration documents at the same time that you apply for your own documents.
However, you can also request immigration documents for them at any point during your stay.
To fill out a dependent request form, log in to ISSS Link.
Your family members will need to apply for dependent visas before they come to the US.
They will each need an I-20 or DS-2019 document and a valid visa in their passport in order to enter the country.
Documents: Dependents of F-1 students are issued Forms I-20 in order to apply for F-2 dependent entry visas.
Employment: F-2 dependents are not allowed to earn income in the US under any circumstances.
Study: F-2 children and spouses can enroll part-time in a degree program at an SEVP-certified school or university, and F-2 children can be enrolled full-time in elementary or secondary education (K-12). However, full-time enrollment at the college level is prohibited for F-2 dependents. If an F-2 dependent wants to be a full-time student at the college level, they need to change their immigration status to F-1.
Health insurance: We strongly encourage you to purchase health insurance for your F-2 dependents due to the high cost of health care in the US, but you are not legally required to do so.
Documents: Dependents of J-1 students and scholars are issued Form DS-2019 in order to apply for the J-2 dependent entry visa.
Employment: J-2 dependents can apply for employment authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services after they arrive in the US. However, any earnings must not be used to support the J-1 exchange visitor—income should only be used for recreational purposes. How to apply >>
Study: J-2 dependents can also study in the US, as long as that's not the primary reason they're here.
Health insurance: J-2 dependents are legally required to maintain health insurance while they are in J-2 status. Learn more >>
Two-year home residency requirement: If you are subject to the two-year home residence requirement, your J-2 dependents are, too. Learn more >>
Other reporting requirements: While your dependents are in J-2 status, you'll need to keep their contact information up to date in ISSS Link. Also, if a J-2 dependent leaves the US before the end date on their DS-2019, you should report their departure using the Dependent Departure/Removal e-form in ISSS Link within 10 calendar days.
Documents: If your dependents are already in the US, they can apply for H-4 status using Form I-539. Include this form in your H-1B petition.
If they are outside the US, they don't need to fill out the I-539. Instead, they should set up an appointment with a US consulate once you receive your approval packet. The H-1B approval notice and proof of relationship to the H-1B (marriage or birth certificate) are usually sufficient documentation for them to get their H-4 visa stamp.
Employment: H-4 children aren't eligible for employment in the US, but some H-4 spouses can apply for work authorization if their H-1B spouse:
- Has an approved I-140 immigrant worker petition; OR
- Has received a 1-year extension of H-1B status beyond their 6th year based on a filed I-140 or labor certification.
Study: H-4 dependents can study in the US.
Health insurance: We strongly encourage you to purchase health insurance for your H-4 dependents due to the high cost of health care in the US, but you are not legally required to do so.