Legal dependents (spouse and children) of international students or employees in F-1, J-1, TN, or H-1B non-immigrant status may enter the US as F-2, J-2, TD, or H-4 visa holders. Their stay in the US is completely dependent on that of the principal alien. If the J-1 exchange visitor withdraws from school or the H-1B holder leaves his or her employment at Dartmouth College and leaves the US, the J-2 or H-4 dependent must leave as well. If the F-1 student leaves the country for an extended vacation term, the F-2 must leave as well. Similarly, if the TN leaves the country, the TD must as well. The following information may help to clarify some of the liabilities and responsibilities associated with a dependent visa status.
In order to bring dependents to the US, the F-1 student must show evidence of financial resources sufficient to support his/her spouse and/or children. As a rule, you must show a bank account with about US $5000.00 for your spouse and US $3500.00 for each child that you wish to bring to the US. If you have been in your program less than 9 months, we will ask you to submit a letter of support from your academic advisor. This letter should state that you are adjusting well to the academic workload and that your advisor is not concerned that bringing your family to the US might adversely affect your academic success.
The procedure is as follows:
Spouses: F-2 dependent spouses are not allowed to participate in full-time or part-time study in a degree program or in taking courses toward the completion of a degree program. J-2 dependent spouses may still engage in part-time or full-time study; however, the Department of State is reviewing this regulation. A J-2 may accept financial support in exchange for work or an assistantship, but only after applying for and receiving an employment authorization card from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) (Please see below for work authorization application procedures for J-2's.) If a dependent is accepted into a full-time program of study, the Office of Visa and Immigration Services strongly recommends applying for a change of status to an appropriate student visa such as F-1 or J-1.
Children: F-2 and J-2 children may attend elementary and secondary school.
Dependents in F-2, TD, or H-4 status may not accept employment in the U.S. They may volunteer only if the position in which they are interested has always been a volunteer position, and always will be. The CIS or the Department of Labor (DOL) does not allow a dependent to volunteer for a position and then begin to receive payment for performing the same duties once a change of immigration status is approved. It is possible for the dependent to be offered a paid position and apply for a change of status to an appropriate visa that allows employment. These opportunities are rare, however, and certain qualifications dictated by the visa type must be met before the visa status change is approved. In addition, employment may not commence until the CIS approves the change. This can take five months or more.
If traveling outside and re-entering the US the dependents need to ensure that they have valid passports, appropriate valid dependent visas, and the proper forms (F-2: I-20 form; J-2: DS-2019 form; and H-4: the I-797 H-1B Approval Notice). The I-20 form held by the dependent must have a travel signature on the form that is no older than 6 months, or within a year for a travel signature on the DS-2019 form. The H-4 dependent should have the original Notice of Approval for the principle's H-1B status, Form I-797.
Please visit the following Website pages we have created to help international spouses and children adjust to the U.S. and the Dartmouth community. Please contact the Office of Visa and Immigration Services if you have any questions. We are eager to help!
Unfortunately, due to a staffing shortage, the Office of Visa and Immigration Services does not currently offer a formal dependent orientation program. Please explore the following links for more information that may prove helpful to your family once they arrive in the US.
Schools: Hanover, NH and Norwich, VT Public Schools:
English as a Second Language courses: Rassias Foundation
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Local Churches and Synagogues
Local Childcare Agencies
Last Updated: 5/1/13