Resources for Students


  1. Home
  2. Students
  3. Bringing Dependents to the United States

Bringing Dependents to the United States

Make sure that your designated school official (DSO) knows that you would like to bring your dependents with you. When you inform the DSO that your dependents will be accompanying you to the United States, the DSO will then issue a Form I-20 for each of your dependents.

Many schools also have a separate form you need to fill out in order to obtain a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status," for your dependents. Before you apply for an F-2 or M-2 visa for your spouse or child, you should understand the visa limitations on your dependents.

F-2 and M-2 dependents:

  • Are in legal immigration status as long as you maintain status, throughout your program of study and any authorized period of optional practical training after completion.
  • May depart and re-enter the United States with proper documentation.
  • May not work.
  • Are not eligible for Social Security numbers.
  • F-2 and M-2 dependents can engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study. Read more about this in the Adjustments to Designated School Official Limits Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Should obtain an updated Form I-20 from the DSO if any information about you changes.
  • May file for a change of status (via Form I-539, "Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status") to F-1 or M-1 status if the adult dependent wants to study full-time.

Pre-College Student Enrollment

Students as young as six years old can be issued F-1 visas to attend a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school in the United States, but there are strict limitations. For more information on Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, please see our Kindergarten to Grade 12 Students resource page.

Related Tags: Dependents

Was This Helpful?
Please provide feedback on this page.