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To explain an F-2 visa, we’re required to discuss the F-1 visa first. The F-1 visa holder is a foreign national who has no intention of abandoning their home country for purposes of a change in domicile. They don’t want to immigrate to the United States. They’re only in the United States temporarily for purposes of a full-time course of study, and they intend on returning to their home country after completion of that course of study.
F2 visa basics
The F-2 visa is also a nonimmigrant visa. It allows the spouse and dependent unmarried children under the age of 21 of the F-1 visa applicant or holder to enter the United States legally. They can apply for F-2 status at the same time that the foreign student applies for their F-1 visa. The F-2 spouse or dependent child can enter the United States with their spouse or parent or reunite with that spouse or parent at a later date. They can’t enter on a date prior to the student’s entry date though. They can continue to reside in the United States, or they can travel to and from the United States so long as their F-2 visa remains valid. Should the spouse or parent lose their F-1 status, the spouse or dependent child automatically loses their F-2 status.
Work and school
While in the United States on the F-2 visa, the spouse or dependent child is not permitted to work. Under the right circumstances, they might be permitted to convert their F-2 visa over to H-1B status though. This process can be completed without being required to leave the United States. The spouse isn’t permitted to enroll in a full-time course of study either, but he or she is permitted to participate in studies that are recreational or involved with a hobby. Children are allowed to attend school on a full-time basis from kindergarten through their senior year in high school.
When family members are already in United States
If your family is already in the United States with lawful visas, you can apply to change their visa category to F-2. Deadlines might become an issue though. If you have a child that’s born in the United States, that child automatically becomes a United States citizen. There’s no need to seek F-2 status for that child.
The I-20 form
The I-20 is a form that must be submitted as part of obtaining a student visa. The I-20 should be forwarded to the spouse who must take the form to the closest United States Consulate. The spouse should have the following documents with them when they go to the consulate:
If not applying with spouse or parent
If the spouse isn’t applying for F-2 status at the same time as the student, the I-20 must be forwarded to him or her. At time of entry into the United States, the spouse must present a valid and completed I-20 form along with their passport and the passports of the dependent children. All passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into the United States.
The holder of an F-2 visa is allowed to travel from the United States. For purposes of reentering the United States, they’re required to have a current travel endorsement. Should the F-1 student leave the United States, the spouse and dependent children cannot remain in the country unless the student is absent for less than five months.
When F-2 visa terminates
After the student has completed their studies, the student, their spouse and dependent children are permitted to remain in the United States for 60 days. Divorce would also terminate F-2 status. Should a dependent child marry or attain the age of 21, their F-2 terminates by operation of law, but they might be eligible to apply for a different type of visa.
Eligibility of other family members
There are times when other family members not eligible for the F-2 visa wish to visit the student and their family. Those family members must apply for a tourist B-2 or other visa to enter the United States.
NYC Immigration Lawyers is the immigration law firm of Raiser & Kenniff. In our 75 years of combined experience, we’ve helped thousands of visa applicants navigate their way through the complicated United States visa process. It’s a complex and detailed process, so you want your immigration lawyers to be highly experienced and continually updated on rapidly changing immigration law. We want to see you come to the United States and succeed in your purpose for being here. Time is of the essence for F-1 and F-2 visas. You don’t want to have to wait for another semester or academic year, and you don’t want your family separated either. We’ll have all of your paperwork properly completed and your supplemental documentation in order so that there are no unnecessary delays after submission.