Skip to main content

F-1 Dependent Information: F-2 Visa Holders

General Information

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.

Procedure for Bringing Family Members to the US as F-2 Status Holders

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:

  • Please download and print out the Request for a Dependent Travel Document. This form must be submitted to the Office of Visa and Immigration Services with all other required documentation.
  • Please submit: a recent (3 months old or less) US bank statement reflecting the necessary funds; the letter of support from your academic advisor; your current I-20 form, your passport, and I-94 card (if you entered the U.S. by land) or electronic Form I-94 print-out (if you entered the U.S. by air or sea).  You can access and print your electronic Form I-94 here.
  • Within one to two weeks, we will issue a travel I-20 form for your spouse and or children to use to apply for an F-2 visa and enter the US.
  • Please be advised that the State Department Officer at the US consulate where your family will apply for their visas will also require evidence of financial support. They may have different standards that you will have to meet. The amounts listed above are requirements of Dartmouth College, not of the State Department.


Spouses: F-2 dependent spouses are allowed to participate in part-time study in courses offered by an SEVP-certified school. F-2 dependent spouses may also engage in study that is recreational or avocational in nature. F-2 dependents are not eligible to engage in any employment, including practical training.

J-2 dependent spouses may engage in part-time or full-time study. 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.

Employment Regulations

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 Note:

  • If the principal and or dependents will be traveling to Canada, Mexico, or the adjacent islands (ie: Caribbean islands) for a visit of less than 30 days, and their visas have expired, they will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. using those expired visas due to a process called Automatic Revalidation. Please contact the Office of Visa and Immigration Services for more information on this.
  • Your U.S. visa will not be valid to let you enter Canada. Citizens of certain countries are required to have a visa to enter Canada, while others are not. Please go to this Website to determine if you need a Canadian visa to visit Canada:

Dependent Orientation

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.

Town of Hanover, NH

Schools: Hanover, NH and Norwich, VT Public Schools:

Medical Facilities

Nearby Towns

Real Estate Agencies

English as a Second Language courses: Rassias Foundation


Local Insurance Companies

Local Restaurants

Local Travel Agencies

Local Churches and Synagogues

Local Childcare Agencies

Local Banks

Last Updated: 8/16/17