Spouses and Children

Student in commencement attire with family and friendsSpouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are considered dependents for U.S. immigration purposes and are eligible to apply for the derivative status in order to come to the U.S. The duration of their status is the same as the principal status-holder. The dependent visa will not be issued until the principal has been issued his or her visa. Once the principal leaves the U.S., dependent status is deemed to end. 

Although it is exciting to have the opportunity of living in another country, it can be challenging for your spouse, partner or child to settle in, find things to do and establish their circle of friends. Fortunately, there are many ways for spouses and partners of to become involved with the University and its community. Some of the activities are included here. Specific information is available from International Student and Scholar Services.

English Classes for Spouses and Partners

Recreational and volunteer activities (Note: volunteer activities have special requirements)

Special issue for older children: When dependent children reach the age of 21, under U.S. immigration regulations, they are no longer considered “children” and are no longer eligible for the derivative dependent status. This is referred to as “aging out.”  In order to remain in the U.S. with their parents, they must change to another nonimmigrant status.

The allowable activities for each status are different and will be discussed in alphabetical order.

F-1 – Dependents have F-2 status

Study: Children are allowed to study full-time through high (secondary) school and may be enrolled in public or private schools. 

Full-time study is allowed for spouses and children in avocational and/or recreational courses.

Study leading towards an academic degree: Spouses and dependents over high school age may study on a part-time basis only. In order to study on a full time basis towards the completion of an academic degree, a change of status must be applied for and received before beginning study on a full time basis.  Enrollment on a full-time basis in study leading towards the completion of is considered to be an immigration status violation. 

Employment: There is no employment authorization possible for spouses or dependents.

H-1B – Dependents have H-4 status

Study: There are no restrictions on study for spouses or children.

Employment:  There is no employment authorization for spouses or dependents, with one exception.

U.S. Permanent Residency process: Once the principal employee has an approved I-140 Petition for Alien Worker, the H-4 spouse may file for employment authorization. Information will be provided during the Permanent Resident application process.

J-1 – Dependents have J-2 status

Study: There are no restrictions on study for spouses or children.

Employment: J-2 spouses are eligible to apply for employment as long as the income from the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the principal J-1. Income from dependent income may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Dependents wishing to work must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document from USCIS by filing the form I-765.

Application Procedures – have a link to the application information below as a separate page

The application for J-2 employment authorization includes:

  • A letter to USCIS, explaining the reason for requesting employment authorization. Make sure to note that this is not the primary source of funding for your stay in the United States.
  • Completed Form I-765
    (Caution: Use the paper form only. DO NOT submit online.)
  • All copies of DS-2019 forms for both J-1 and J-2 visa holders
  • A copy of your J-2 visa stamp in the passport, and the passport identification page with your photo and information
  • A personal check or money order for $380 payable to US Department of Homeland Security.
  • Two passport type color photographs. You should print your name lightly in pencil on the back of the two photographs (include the number on your previous EAD if you have one, as well as a copy of your former card).

The application and all of the required documentation must be sent to the USCIS Service Center Lockbox facility. Please visit the USCIS website to find out where to send your documents.

Make sure your keep a copy of all the documents you submit.

After mailing in the documents, you will receive a notice (Form I-797) stating you need to wait for about 80 days to receive your EAD. This is your receipt, so take care not to lose it.

Remember, you cannot begin your employment until you have received the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from USCIS. If you are applying for a renewal of your J-2 work permission you cannot work beyond the previously authorized date until you receive a new EAD.

Anyone who earns money in the United States must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes.  International Student and Scholar Services can provide you with instructions on applying for a social security number. J-2 visa holders are subject to social security taxes, federal income taxes and, where applicable, state and local income taxes.