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All you need to know about F-2 US visas for student dependents

Get to know about the eligibility, process, and benefits of a F-2 visa for the dependents of international students.

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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.

What is a US visa?

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.

What types of US visas are there?

The two broad US visa categories are - 

  • Nonimmigrant visas: for temporary stay. For example, H-1B for speciality workers, B-1 for business visitors, B-2 for tourism, F for academic students, M for vocational students
  • Immigrant visas: for permanent stay. For example, K-1 for fiancé(e), F2A and F2B for certain family members of lawful US permanent residents

The visa to be applied for by you will be as per the purpose of your travel to the US. 

What is F-2 visa for 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.

Who is eligible for F-2 visa?

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.

Do I have to pay SEVIS fees for my F-2 dependents?

No, you don’t have to pay separate SEVIS fees for your dependents.

What is SEVP for study in US?

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.

How many SEVP-approved schools are there in the US?

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.

What is SEVIS?

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.

What is 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.

Who can apply as a dependent of F-1 visa holder?

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.

What are the F-2 visa requirements?

Generally, the following will be needed to apply for F-2 status - 

  • Passport
  • Photograph
  • Confirmation of visa application - Form DS 160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application 
  • Birth certificate, if child of F-1 visa holder
  • Marriage certificate, if spouse of F-1 visa holder
  • Visa fee payment receipt
  • Form I-20
  • Copy of the F-1 visa holder’s Form I-20
  • Proof of financial stability - tax records, bank statements etc.

What is Form I-20?

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.

How to apply for F-2 US visa?

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.

What are the benefits of an F-2 dependent visa ?

Benefits of an F-2 dependent visa include - 

  1. Extension of stay: If the primary F-1 visa holder extends their stay in the US as an international student, the F-2 dependents are automatically eligible for applying for an extension as well. Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status will have to be submitted. 
  2. Access to healthcare: F-2 visa holders get access to hospitals and medical facilities in the US. Purchasing a health insurance plan in advance is recommended. 
  3. Changing visa status: A change of status can be requested by a F-2 visa holder in the US. Situations that might require a change of status include - securing a job in the US, enrolling in a higher education program etc.
  4. Route to Green Card: If the primary F-1 visa holder acquires a US Green Card - such as an  employment-based Green Card like Eb-2 or EB-3 - their F-2 dependents automatically become eligible to apply for a Green Card as well.

What is the processing time for F-2 visa?

Varies from case-to-case, depending on the volume of applications and other factors.

Why Choose Kansas?

Kansas Overseas Careers is among the leading visa consultants in India. Served 20K+ customers and over 3K+ active cases.

Our services:

  • Profile Evaluation: Based on your unique profile history, we make matches with the visa eligibility requirements, and advise you with the visas you must apply for.
  • Resume Writing: We guide you to create a resume that stands out as desired by the concerned immigration authority.
  • Procuring documents: Help you arrange documents needed before applying for a visa.
  • Professional guidance: Be it providing you with interview training, French/English courses or working samples for resumes, cover letters or assisting with application forms, medical or police clearance certificates - we will always be there for you.
  • Dedicated Case-Officer: We offer personal assistance and a single point-of-contact between the company and you, throughout the process
  • Post-Landing Services: We help you settle down in the country after you’ve received your visa. These services are specifically customized as per your requirements.

Don’t wait. Begin your visa application today!

Study Abroad in the US - 2020 Facts 

[Based on 2020 SEVIS by the Numbers report]

  • 1,251,259 was the total number of active F-1 and M-1 students
  • 8,369 SEVP-certified schools eligible to enroll international students
  • 227,191 international students hosted by California, the largest percentage - 18% - of any US state 
  • 226 countries found representation in the foreign students
  • 5,288 different primary majors pursued
  • 86% of students enrolled in associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs 
  • 1,121,981 degrees pursued in higher education
  • 856,999 were F-1 students 
  • 445,659 sought a bachelor’s degree
  • 411,340 sought a master’s degree 
  • 187,902 F-1 students sought a doctoral degree
  • 207,460 students were from India 
  • Top 3 universities with the most number of international students, in order - Northeastern University, New York University, and Columbia University in the City of New York

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