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Who are Dependents and Can They Study in the United States?

December 9, 2015

Dependents are the spouses and children of F-1 and M-1 students who are in the United States under the F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant status.

The status of F-2 or M-2 individuals depends on the status of their F-1 or M-1 spouse or parent. This means a person cannot be admitted into the United States under an F-2 or M-2 category unless their parent or spouse is an F-1 or M-1 student.

Unlike their spouses or parents, F-2 and M-2 individuals are not in the United States to complete a program of study at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school. Instead, their status is granted because of their relationship to an F-1 or M-1 student. This is why dependents may only remain in status for as long as their F-1 or M-1 parent or spouse maintains their status.

Dependents may not work while they are in the United States; however, under certain conditions, they may study. The Department of Homeland Security amended its regulation and now allows adult dependents to study part-time at an SEVP-certified school. If an adult dependent wants to study full time, they must apply for and receive a change of status to become an F-1 or M-1 student.

Minor dependents, meaning those who are under the age of 18, may study full time. In fact, many states require that minors who are within a certain age range and reside in the state attend school. Therefore, dependent minors enrolling in school at the kindergarten through 12th grade education levels are permitted to study full time and are not required to attend an SEVP-certified school.

For more information about the rules that apply for maintaining F-2 and M-2 status, visit the Dependents page on Study in the States.

Know an F-1 or M-1 student who wants to bring a spouse or child to the United States? Share this article with them on social media, using the hashtag #StudyintheStates.

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