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Dependent Visa Information

Dependent Visa Status: Students

Student Status Dependent Status Eligible to Apply for Work Permission? Eligible to Attend School?
F-1 F-2 No F-2 dependents may enroll at a the post-secondary level as long as it does not amount to full-time enrollment. F-2 minors may attend kindergarten through 12th grade full-time. Study that is avocational or recreational is allowed. 
J-1 J-2 Yes, see J-2 Employment page for information Yes - Full Time or Part-Time

Dependent Visa Status: Scholars

Scholar Status Dependent Status Eligible to Apply for Work Permission? Eligible to Attend School?
E-3 E-3D Dependent Yes, contact Gayle Nerli for more information Yes
H-1B H-4 Dependent No Yes
J-1 J-2 Yes, see J-2 Employment page for information Yes
O-1 O-3 No Yes
TN TD No Yes

Accompanying Spouse and Children

  • Spouse/Partner: Must provide proof of marriage to a principal visa holder, usually in the form of a marriage license. 
  • Children: Parents must provide proof of birth, usually in the form of a birth certificate. Children must be under 21 years old.

Duration of Stay

Nonimmigrants in any dependent status can remain in the U.S. legally as long as the principal visa holder in the family (student or scholar) remains in the United States legally, other than short absences for travel abroad.  If the principal visa holder leaves, the dependents must either leave or change to an independent visa status that allows for their own stay in the U.S. One example would be children attending school/university changing to F-1 student status.  


Nonimmigrant dependents in the statuses listed above are allowed to study full-time or part-time. However, only those who can obtain a work permit can accept financial support from the university during their studies, such as a teaching or research assistantship.  In some cases, a change to student status will be recommended if a dependent plans to enter a full-time degree program.


  • Dependents in F-2, H-4, O-3 and TD status cannot work (paid or unpaid).
  • Dependents in E-3 and J-2 dependent status are eligible to apply for work authorization with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Once the application is filed, it takes approximately 90 days to receive a work permit.  The work permit will allow E-3 or J-2 dependents to work for any U.S. employer as long as it is valid and the E-3 or J-2 dependent is in valid status. These dependents must obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before starting to work.  More information is available on our page about J-2 Dependent Employment.
  • More information about Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for E-3 dependents is available from the USCIS website: I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

Social Security Numbers for Dependents

  • Dependents in H-4, O-3, and TD status cannot apply for a social security number.
  • Dependents in E-3 or J-2 status can apply for a social security number, once they have a work permit.  More information about how to apply for a Social Security Number after receiving a work permit is available from the Social Security Administration

International Travel and Re-Entry

If traveling internationally, all dependents must have a valid visa in the correct dependent category to re-enter the U.S.

  • E-3, H-4, O-3, and TD dependents must also show proof of the spouse/parent’s principal visa status and that he or she is maintaining that status (for example, a copy of the approval notice for the principal visa holder and a recent letter confirming the principal visa holder’s employment).
  • J-2 dependents must request a travel signature on their DS-2019 document at SISS to re-enter the US. The signature is valid for 6 months. Dependents can simply include their DS-2019 when the principal J-1 requests a travel signature or request their own signature by following the instructions and completing the J-1 scholar DS-2019 travel signature request eForm in iGlobal
  • F-2 dependents must request a travel signature on their I-20 document at SISS to re-enter the U.S.
  • All dependents need a valid visa stamp in their passport at the time of entry (EXCEPT for Canadian citizens) and a passport that in most cases should be valid for 6 months after entry.  Please check with an international scholar advisor if your passport will expire in less than 6 months.

For more information, please visit our scholar Travel webpage.

Travel and Change of Status

In most cases, a petition that is filed inside the U.S. to change status from one nonimmigrant status to another is canceled if travel takes place after the petition is filed with USCIS and before it is approved.  Dependents who have a change of status petition pending with the USCIS should consult with an international scholar advisor prior to making travel plans.

Dependent Children

More information is available from Childcare/Schools and Health Insurance for Dependents.