The process of getting an F-2 visa for your dependents can be quite overwhelming. The steps to take and the documents to be gathered must be clearly understood to avoid any mistakes that might lead to visa rejection. Submitting a complete application is a way of ensuring that your loved ones may join you while you study abroad in the US.
Generally, a foreign national that intends to enter the US will have to first secure a specific visa, as per their purpose for entry. The US visa will be affixed in the passport issued by the country of residence of the traveler.
Some international travelers might be eligible to travel to the US without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free entry to the US.
A US visa permits you to travel to a US Port of Entry and request permission from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector to enter the country.
The two broad US visa categories are -
The visa to be applied for by you will be as per the purpose of your travel to the US.
An F-2 visa is issued to the dependents - spouse, and children (below 21 years of age) - of an individual that holds a valid US student visa. You will have to apply for and secure a US student visa if you intend to study in the US as an international student.
There are two kinds of US student visas available. Academic students that seek to enter the US to attend a university or college will need an F US visa. Vocational students will have to apply for the M visa instead.
While the international students themselves are issued the F-1 and M-1 visas, their dependents can apply for a visa under the F-2 and M-2 categories respectively.
Your spouse and children - minor, and unmarried - that intend to reside with you in the US while you study as an international student might apply for F-2 or M-2 visas.
No, you don’t have to pay separate SEVIS fees for your dependents.
Here, SEVP stands for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, a program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that administers the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
It is the SEVP that grants approval to a US school to enroll international students. On behalf of the DHS, SEVP manages schools, F-1 and M-1 students, as well as their F-2 and M-2 dependents.
As per the annual SEVIS By the Numbers report of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), there were a total of 8,369 SEVP-certified schools in the US in calendar year 2020.
The first step to secure a US student visa is that of applying to an SEVP-approved school. Following successful enrollment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and be required to pay the SEVIS fee.
USD 350 is the SEVIS fees for F and M visa applicants. All foreign students and exchange visitors to the US will be required to pay the SEVIS fees through Form I-901 (used for remitting payment of I-901 fee for those seeking F-1, F-3, M-1, M-3, and J-1 visa status). The SEVIS fee is separate from the student visa fee.
Dependents of F and M visas don’t have to pay a separate SEVIS fees.
Only the immediate family members of an F-1 study visa holder are eligible to apply for the F-2 visa. To be able to apply for the F-2 visa, you must be either the spouse, or an unmarried child below 21 years of age of a F-1 student visa holder.
Other family members are not eligible for the F-2 visa category. They can come and visit you in the US on a B-2 visitor visa instead.
Generally, the following will be needed to apply for F-2 status -
Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status is issued to an international student after gaining acceptance for study abroad in the US. Form I-20 is the primary document proving that the student has been admitted to a US school.
The Designated School Official (DSO) at the university/college named on an F-1 student’s Form I-120 is also authorized to issue Form I-20 to the spouse or child (under 21 years of age) of a F-1 students, allowing them to enter or remain in the US as F-2 dependents.
The first step of applying for the process is that of securing a Form-I-20. This will be issued by the same SEVP-approved school that gave Form I-20 to the international student for F-1 student visa. Next is the online submission of Form DS-160 and the payment of the USD160 visa application fee.
After this comes the booking of appointments - for biometrics at the Visa Application Centre (VAC), and the visa interview at the Embassy or Consulate.
Benefits of an F-2 dependent visa include -
Varies from case-to-case, depending on the volume of applications and other factors.
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[Based on 2020 SEVIS by the Numbers report]
The F-2 is a nonimmigrant or temporary visa for the United States. The F-2 allows the immediate family members of an international academic student to come to the US with the F-1 student visa holder and stay with them for the duration of their study abroad in the US.
No. You cannot seek full-time employment on a F-2 visa. To be able to work overseas, you will have to first apply to get a different permit.
No. An F-2 visa for the US is a nonimmigrant permit to stay, therefore an F-2 cannot directly lead to a US Green Card on its own. However, you might apply for a change of status while in the US with F-2 status.
The validity of the F-2 visa will be as per that of the F-1 visa holder’s. An F-2 student dependent visa is tied to the F-1 visa of an international student.
An F-2 or M-2 dependent might study part-time in any certified program at SEVP-approved school.
Inform the Designated School Official (DSO) that you would like to bring your dependents to the US with you. The DSO will then issue a separate Form I-20 for each of your dependents. Do keep in mind that certain schools have a separate form to be filled up to get a Form I-20 for your dependents.
Online classes are allowed for a F-2 visa holder at the postsecondary level. A F-2 dependent might enroll in a combination of online and in-person classes that amounts to less than a full course of study.
Apply for a change to status to either F-1 or M-1 visa category. Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status will have to be filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).