Most international students and scholars prefer their spouse and children to accompany them while in the US. Dependents (spouse and/or children) must have a SEVIS record, a valid visa, and their own visa certificate (Form I-20 or DS-2019).
In order for OIS to issue a visa certificate for a family member, please submit the I-20 Request Form or DS-2019 Request Form along with supporting documentation:
Copy of dependent’s passport (s)
Marriage certificate with an official English translation
Financial documentation (please refer to the request forms for more information)
Dependents must submit to the US Consular Officer a properly endorsed Form I-20 or DS-2019. Dependents must also have a valid passport and must be able to demonstrate eligibility for F-2/J-2 visa status, such as proof of relationship to the F-1 or J-1 student (e.g., a marriage certificate for spouses or a birth certificate for minor dependent children) as well as demonstrate proof of ties to the home country.
If a student or an exchange visitor would like their parents, siblings, friends or relatives to visit the United States temporarily, they may write a letter of invitation to aide them in obtaining a temporary visitor visa from the US Consulate in their country - or they may use the visa waiver program if they are from a visa-waiver country. OIS does not need to review or sign the invitation letter. However, this invitation letter should be notarized. OIS offers notary services, but you must call (919-515-2961) and make an appointment. Your local bank and/or Student Legal Services (by appointment only) also offer notary services. Please do not sign the letter before your notary appointment and be sure to bring a photo id with you.
Below are examples of invitation letters that may be used.
The spouse of an F-1 student who is in F-2 status is not permitted to study or work. Any F-2 spouse who desires to work or is offered employment (wages or other benefits in exchange for personal or professional services) must contact an immigration attorney or the employer’s human resources officer to explore possible immigration options for which the F-2 may be eligible.
The federal regulations do give dependents of a J-1 student or scholar (a J-2 spouse or minor child of working age – 16 to 20) the option to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The J-2 dependent does not need a job offer first and may apply directly to the USCIS (no recommendation or authorization from OIS is necessary). We do offer a checklist and a sample of a request letter for you.
Minor dependent children are required to attend school until they are at least 18 years old and although public education for kindergarten through high school in the US is free, there are numerous school options, types of schools, and varying schedules. The spouse of an F-1 student who is in F-2 status is not permitted to study (or be enrolled), although they may attend part-time English conversation programs in the community. An F-2 student who applies to a school or college and is admitted must speak with the appropriate school official about applying for a change of status to F-1 or other immigration option that would permit enrollment.
OIS strongly encourages that all international students and scholars purchase medical insurance for their dependents. Medical costs are extremely high in the United States and not having coverage could be disastrous in case of a medical emergency. J-1 Exchange Visitors are required by law to have health insurance (for themselves and all their J-2 dependent family members) that meets minimum federal requirements for the duration of their Exchange Visitor Program.
Family members are not required to check in with OIS; however we would be very happy to meet with them. You can schedule a family check-in by calling the OIS front desk at 919-515-2961 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to helping dependents through our programs which include English Conversation Clubs, cooking classes, children playgroups and many volunteer opportunities which will help them get connected and get involved in the local community.