US F2 Visa for Dependents

Complete guide to obtaining an F2 visa, the required documents, the application process, eligibility, and FAQs

The F2 visa, or dependent visa, is an important part of the US immigration system. It enables spouses and unmarried children under 21 of F1 visa holders to accompany and reside with them in the United States. This guide covers the F2 visa application process, eligibility criteria, necessary documents, processing time, and the privileges and limitations associated with this visa category.

F-2 visas are for dependents of F-1 visa holders, such as spouses and unmarried minor children under the age of 21. To be eligible for an F-2 visa, applicants must be the spouse or unmarried child of an F-1 visa holder and have the financial capacity to support their stay in the U.S. F-2 visa holders are not allowed to work, but they may attend school on a part-time basis. They must also comply with compulsory education requirements if they are school-age. F-2 visa holders may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the U.S., but they are limited to less than a full course of study. They must also maintain their F-1 visa holder’s legal status and extend their program in a timely manner to maintain their F-2 status.

Eligibility for an F2 Visa

To be eligible for an F2 visa, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  1. Spouse or Child of F1 Visa Holder: You must be either the spouse or an unmarried child (under 21 years old) of an approved F1 visa holder.
  2. Financial Means: You should have the financial means to support yourself and your family during your stay in the US. The F1 visa holder must demonstrate the ability to cover the expenses for their dependents.

Required Documents for F2 Visa Application

When applying for an F2 visa, you need to compile a comprehensive set of documents. Here is the list of required documents:

  • Current and previous passports
  • Photocopies of relevant passport pages
  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Proof of financial stability (bank or tax records, employment pay slips, etc.)
  • USA visa photograph (taken within the last six months)
  • Interview confirmation letter
  • Receipts of paid visa fees
  • Original Form I-20 and one copy
  • Copy of the F1 visa holder’s I-20 form
  • Copy of the F1 visa (if applicable)
  • Copy of the F1 visa holder’s passport (if applying separately)
  • Original marriage certificate (if spouse of the F1 visa holder)
  • Genuine marriage proof, such as wedding albums, guest lists, receipts of wedding expenses, and honeymoon trips (if married at the registrar)
  • Original birth certificate (if child of the F1 visa holder)

Navigating the complexities of immigration law? Connect with professionals specializing in immigration services.

Step-by-Step Guide to Apply for an F2 Visa

Obtain Form I-20

The F2 visa application process begins with the F1 visa holder. Once the F1 visa holder gains acceptance into a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) institution, the school issues a Form I-20. This form contains important details about the purpose of the visa, estimated expenses, and the duration of the educational program. If the F1 visa holder intends to bring their dependents to the US, they should inform the SEVP institution, which will then issue an additional Form I-20 for the dependents.

Fill in Form DS-160 Online

The next step involves completing Form DS-160 online with all the necessary information. After submitting the form, save the generated barcode and confirmation page for future reference.

Pay the Visa Fees

The F2 visa application requires a fee of $185. Ensure you pay this fee to proceed with your application. Keep the receipt as proof of payment. Note that there might be additional fees depending on the country or US Embassy from which you are applying.

Schedule the Visa Interview

If applying together with the F1 visa holder, schedule the visa interview at the same time. If applying separately, you need to schedule your own visa interview. Once scheduled, you will receive an interview confirmation letter, which you must present at the US Embassy.

Compile Your F2 Visa Document File

Before attending the visa interview, gather all the required documents and ensure your file is complete. The success of your application largely depends on the accuracy and completeness of your documentation.

Attend the Visa Interview

Arrive on time for your visa interview with all the necessary documents. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship with the F1 visa holder and your intentions while in the US. Transparency and honesty are crucial during the interview process.

F2 Visa Processing Time

The processing time for F2 visas varies depending on the workload at the US Embassy or Consulate handling your application. In some cases, you may receive an immediate response from the interviewer, while in others, it may take several days or weeks to hear back. The Embassy will thoroughly review your documents and financial situation to determine your eligibility.

Privileges of an F2 Visa

As an F2 visa holder, your privileges are directly linked to the F1 visa holder. Here are some key privileges:

  1. Duration of Stay: The F2 visa’s validity coincides with the validity of the F1 visa. If the F1 visa holder is allowed to stay in the US for two years, the F2 visa holder also has a two-year validity.
  2. Extend Your Stay: If the F1 visa holder extends their stay, you can also apply for a renewal of your F2 visa. File Form I-539 with proof of your relationship and financial support.
  3. Change of Status: Under certain circumstances, such as enrolling in an academic degree or securing a job with an H-1B visa sponsor, you can apply to change your status and transition to a different visa category.
  4. Green Card Eligibility: If the F1 visa holder applies and obtains a Green Card, you, as an F2 visa holder, will automatically receive one as well. Alternatively, you can try to apply for an Employment-Based Green Card through a sponsoring employer.
  5. Access to Healthcare: While in the US, you have access to medical facilities; however, it’s essential to obtain health insurance due to the high healthcare costs in the US.

Limitations of the F2 Visa

As an F2 visa holder, there are several restrictions that you must be aware of:

  1. No Work Permits: F2 visa holders are not allowed to work in the US. You cannot engage in any form of paid employment.
  2. No Social Security Number (SSN): Since you cannot work, you are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. You may only get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes.
  3. Limited Educational Opportunities: F2 visa holders cannot enrol in credit-bearing educational programs, such as Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. You can only attend recreational, vocational, or non-credit courses for hobbies or leisure.
  4. Travel Restrictions: When entering the US for the first time, you must either travel with the F1 visa holder or after them. Once you have entered the US, you can travel independently without the F1 visa holder.

What is the difference between F-2 and M-2 Visas

The main difference between F-2 and M-2 visas is that F-2 visas are for the dependents of F-1 student visa holders, while M-2 visas are for the dependents of M-1 student visa holders. F-2 visa holders can engage in part-time study at SEVP-certified schools but are not allowed to work in the US. They must leave the US when the F-1 student completes their studies unless they change their status to another visa category like F-1 for full-time study. M-2 visa holders, on the other hand, can engage in part-time study at SEVP-certified schools and work part-time on or off campus. They must leave the US when the M-1 student completes their studies unless they change their status to another visa category like M-1 for full-time study.

The F2 visa offers an invaluable opportunity for the spouses and children of F1 visa holders to stay together during their educational journey.