What is the F2 Dependent Visa?
The F2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa available to immediate relatives of F1 students. Only minor children (below 21 years of age) and the spouse of an F1 holder are qualified for this visa.
Their eligibility to obtain the visa and stay in the US is tied directly to the primary F1 visa holder. This means they cannot enter the US before the primary F1 holder and cannot stay beyond the period granted to the primary F1 visa holder.
As an international student, you may process your F1 visa and the F2 visa for your relatives at the same time. With this, they can accompany you to the US when you are resuming your academic program. Alternatively, the F2 dependent(s) may process their application separately and join you later.
The F2 dependent nonimmigrant status only grants your relatives the right to live in the US. They are not allowed to engage in paid employment. They may, however, study part-time postsecondary level, as long as the study does not amount to what guidelines define as full time for an F1 student (see 8 CFR 214.2(f) (6)). They may also engage in non-vocational and recreative courses.
Eligibility Criteria for F2 Visa
To be eligible for the visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be the spouse of an F1 student visa holder, or the unmarried child of an F1 student visa holder below the age of 21
- Have the financial means to support your family while in the US
- Provide proof of home ties that shows you are willing to return to your home country at the end of the F1 study program.
Documents Needed for the F2 Visa Application
- Valid passport
- Recently taken photographs
- The Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Evidence of financial means to support yourself in the US (payslips, bank statements, tax records, etc.)
- F2 dependent SEVIS Form I-20
- Visa application fee receipts
- Visa application forms
- Marriage certificate if you are applying as the spouse of an F1 holder
- Birth certificate if applying as the child of an F1 holder
F2 Visa Application Process
The F2 visa has different stages of the application process, as shown below:
Step 1: Obtain a Form I-20
After gaining admission to study in an approved institution in the US, the institution will issue a Form I-20 to each F1 student. The form will contain all necessary information about the course, including the duration of the course and estimated costs.
F1 students who wish to bring their dependents will inform the institution, giving the details of the family members they wish to bring.
The institution will issue an I-20 for the dependents, too, based on the information provided by the F1 student. Each dependent applying for an F2 visa must have a Form I-20. After receiving the form, they can now proceed to apply for a visa.
Step 2: Complete Form DS-160
You will complete the DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application to apply for a visa to travel to the US. The form must be completed online with all necessary information and document. The information provided in the form and during your interview will be used to determine if you qualify for the visa.
After filling out the form, you must take the following steps:
– Print and keep the barcode page. You don’t need to print the entire DS-160 form, just the barcode page.
– Schedule a visa interview appointment. You will visit the website of the US consulate or embassy where you wish to have your interview. It is best to schedule your interview at a location closer to you, most preferably in your country of residence.
If you are applying at the same time as the F1 applicant, you can schedule your visa interview to be at the same time and the same location. But if you are applying separately, you will have to schedule your own interview.
– Pay the visa application fee. The F2 visa application fee is $160. Other charges, such as reciprocity or the visa issuance fee, may also apply, depending on your country of origin. You must make the required payment and be sure to keep the receipt.
Step 3: Attend Your Visa Interview
The interview is usually the last and one of the most crucial stages of the F2 visa application process. Before the interview date, make sure you gather all the necessary documents for the appointment. Ensure you arrive on time, answer the questions correctly and truthfully. Most of the questions will mostly centre around your relationship with the F1 visa holder and your intention to be in the US with them. Your overall performance will largely determine if the consular officer will approve or deny your application. If the visa application is approved, you can start your travel plan to accompany or join your F1 spouse or parent in the US.
Can I Renew an F2 Visa?
The F2 visa is renewable as long as you meet the requirements for renewal. However, because it is tied to the F1 status, the eligibility to renew will depend on the F1 visa holder. In other words, you can only apply for a renewal if the F1 visa holder is also applying for a renewal.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will review the application for renewal and determine if the F1 holder and their F2 dependent(s) should be granted a renewal of their visas. You should get a renewal as long as the F1 student hasn’t completed their study program in the US. But once the course reaches its end, you will have to start preparing to leave the US.
Both F1 student and their dependents have a grace period of 60 days to depart the US after the completion of the study program. Failure to depart with 60 days will amount to an unlawful stay, which could affect your chances of qualifying for future US immigration benefits.
Can an F2 Visa Holder Get a Green Card?
The F2 visa is not a dual intent status, meaning you cannot directly switch from an F2 visa to a green card holder. However, there are other ways you can become a green card holder.
For example, if your F1 spouse or parent qualifies for and receives a green card, you will automatically become eligible to get a green card too.
Also, you can change your F2 visa status to another nonimmigrant visa with dual intent, such as an H1B visa. This will require you to have a job offer in the speciality occupation category and an employer to sponsor your H1B visa application. From H1B status, you can apply for a green card and become a permanent resident in the US.
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F2 visa holders are not allowed to accept paid employment in the US. However, they may engage in volunteer work as long as there is no compensation of any kind attached to it and the job is usually done by volunteers.
As an F2 holder, you can only study at a part-time postsecondary level, and your course must not amount to what the regulations define as full-time for F1 international students.
If you wish to enroll in a full-time study, you must first apply for and obtain approval for a change of status to an appropriate visa, such as the F1, J-1, or M-1 status. You must get approval before you start the full-time study.
If you turn 21, you will no longer be eligible for the F2 status. You will have to change to another status such as F1, especially if you wish to study in the US.
The grace period is the extra number of days given to F1 visa holders to leave the US after the completion of the F1 study program. F1 student and their dependents must leave the US within this grace period. As an F2 holder, you cannot stay longer than the F1 holder. Once the -1 visa holder leaves, you must leave as well.
No, there are no travel restrictions attached to the F2 visa. You may travel in and out of the US as long as you maintain valid immigration status.