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Spouses and children

The spouses and unmarried minor (younger than 21 years old) children of F-1 and J-1 students are dependents.

General information

Dad and kid by the Columns.
  • Dependents may enter the U.S. with or after the F-1 or J-1 student but never before.
  • Dependents must have a Form I-20 (F-2) or DS-2019 (J-2) every time they re-enter the U.S.
  • Dependents may not remain in the U.S. after the F-1 or J-1 student has left the U.S. unless the absence is temporary (five months or shorter) and the F-1 or J-1 student is in good standing.
  • Dependents maintain their legal immigration status by the F-1 or J-1 maintaining his or her status; therefore, if the F-1 or J-1 is out of status, so is the F-2 or J-2.
  • F-2s may not be employed.
  • J-2s may be employed if they apply and are approved by USCIS.
  • F-2s may not be admitted as a full-time, degree-seeking students.
  • J-2s may be admitted as a full-time degree seeking students.

Frequently asked questions

How do I add a dependent?
Submit an online request for a new I-20/DS-2019 to add a dependent, providing:

  1. Biographical information: name, relationship, date of birth, city of birth, country of birth. This information should match the dependent's passport.
  2. Financial information: You must show proof of finances for yourself and each dependent that you wish to add to your document. Refer to MU's estimated expenses for more information about the amount of money you will be required to prove.

What if my child was born in the U.S.?
You must decide whether the baby will have a U.S. passport or a passport from your home country. We encourage you to research your citizenship options and make a decision based on your particular situation and plans. If the baby will have a U.S. passport, then you should apply for a U.S. passport. If the baby will have a passport from your home country, contact the nearest embassy or consulate for instructions on how to register the baby and receive a passport. Also, if the baby will have a non-U.S. passport, then the baby should also have a F-2 or J-2 document. To receive a F-2 or J-2 document, please follow the above instructions for adding a dependent.

How long will it take to get the I-20 or DS-2019 for my dependent?
After you submit a document request and financial documentation, it will take approximately 5 working days to prepare the I-20 or DS-2019.

How do dependents get visas to enter the U.S.?
Your dependents should check with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to find out how to apply for a dependent visa. You may be required to show marriage and/or birth certificates. They need I-20 or DS-2019 documents to apply for visas.

What should we do when my dependents arrive in the U.S.?
Bring copies of their passport information page, visa page and I-94 (front and back) to keep in your file at the International Center.

Will my dependent be able to work?
Dependents with F-2 visas are not permitted by USCIS to work.

F-2 dependents should not engage in volunteer activities unless all individuals who take part in the activities are volunteers. Volunteer activities in lab work, tutoring or other positions in which a person might receive cash for the work are not allowed on J-2 visas. There are no exceptions to this immigration regulation. Dependents with J-2 visas are allowed to work after they have received work permission from USCIS. J-2s must apply for this permission, which usually takes four to six months. There are no limits to the locations or types of work for J-2 dependents who have received appropriate authorization.

How do I get health insurance for my dependents?
dependents are not required to have health insurance. However, the International Center very strongly recommends that they have insurance. F-2 dependents might be asked at the visa appointment how they plan to support themselves in case of a medical emergency. J-2 dependents must have health insurance. Neither F-2s nor J-2s are automatically enrolled in MU's student health insurance program. Any F-1 or J-1 student must fill out an application form and pay separately for dependent coverage. If you enroll by the deadline, dependent coverage can be billed through the cashiers office. Pick up applications at the Office of Cashiers in 15 Jesse Hall. For more information about student health insurance, contact the Student Health Center at 573-882-9107.

What if my child turns 21?
When your child turns 21, he or she will be required to apply for a change of status and/or leave the U.S.

What if my spouse and I divorce?
The F-2 or J-2 spouse will be required to apply for a change of status and/or leave the U.S.