F-2 Dependents

Some F-1 students wish to bring their spouse and/or children to the U.S.  Learn about F-2 status and what you need to do to obtain F-2 I-20's for your dependents.


Only the spouse and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of an F-1 visa holder may apply for F-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S. is dependent upon the F-1 maintaining their legal status.

All other family members must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visitor's visa to gain entry to the U.S.

Important Information

Once the F-1 student has completed their studies and has left the U.S., the F-2 dependents must also leave.

Dependent children over age 21 are not eligible for F-2 status and will need to change to another status such as F-1 (for full time students) if they wish to stay in the U.S.

At the end of the F-1 program, there is a 60-day grace period during which the F-1/F-2 may stay in the U.S. Once the F-1 leaves the U.S., the F-2 dependents must leave as well.

Report any changes to ISS

If your dependent departs the U.S. permanently or changes their immigration status, you must report their departure/change of status to ISS. Please email iss@buffalo.edu so that we can remove them as a dependent from your record.


The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment in the U.S.


F-2 dependents of F-1 students in the United States may study part time at the postsecondary level in any certified program at an SEVP-certified school, as long as the study does not amount to what regulations define as full time for an F-1 student. At UB, F-2 dependents are limited to a maximum of 11 credits.

F-2 dependents may participate in avocational or recreational activities. F-2 minor children must comply with compulsory education requirements (Kindergarten through 12th grade).

If an F-2 dependent wants to study full time at the postsecondary level they must apply for and receive approval to change nonimmigrant status to F-1, J-1, or another status allowing full-time study before beginning their full-time study.

Adding an F-2 Dependent

The spouse and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of the F-1 student may be admitted into the U.S. in F-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form I-20 issued in his or her own name and an F-2 visa.

In order to obtain I-20's for your dependents, you will need to submit the documents below to ISS on UB Global. We will then create a new I-20 for you (indicating that you have dependents) and F-2 I-20's for your dependents. 

To request an F-2 I-20 you will need:

  • Copy of the biographic page of each dependent’s passport.
  • Financial documents.  These documents must show that you can financially support yourself and your dependents in the U.S.  Please review our financial documents requirements
    • ISS will calculate the total amount of financial support that you must document for adding dependents depending upon the number of credit hours you need to complete your program and the number of months / semesters you require to finish your program. To receive the financial estimate for adding an F-2 dependent, follow the instructions below and submit the first e-form in UB Global.
  •  Proof of full-time course registration for enrolled students. You must be registered full-time or have Full-time Certification from the Graduate School or an approved Reduced Course Load from ISS to be eligible to add a dependent. 
    • If your Assistantship is not yet reflected in your HUB Student Center or you have not applied for a Reduced Course Load for a future semester, we must calculate your estimated expenses at 12+ credits.

Additional Documentation for Visa Application

Although ISS does not require copies, you will be required to show valid a marriage certificate and/or birth certificates when applying for an F-2 dependent visa, or submitting a change of status application to USCIS.

Application Process

  1. Log in to UB Global by clicking the “LOGIN” button. Enter your UBIT Name and Password. 
  2. Click on “F-1 Student Services” and then “Adding an F-2 Dependent”.
  3. There are three e-forms in this group. The first two e-forms must be complete before your request to add any F-2 dependents will be reviewed by an International Student Advisor. The third e-form should be completed once your dependent is in the U.S. using their F-2 status. Check our e-form processing page for current processing times.
    • Step 1 is the e-form titled "Adding an F-2 Dependent". You are required to upload your dependent's biographic page of their passport and either a marriage or birth certificate (depending on the relationship) in this e-form. You will also answer questions related to your academic and financial situation. After completing this e-form, ISS will send you an estimate of how much financial support you need to show.
    • Step 2 is the e-form titled "Financial Documentation for F-2 Dependents".  In this e-form you will be asked to upload your financial documents. You cannot begin this e-form until ISS has approved your first e-form and sent you an email asking for financial documentation. After submitting Step 2, an International Student Advisor will review your request. Provided we have complete documentation, you will be issued a new I-20 indicating that you have dependents and F-2 I-20's for your dependents.
    • Step 3 is the e-form titled "F-2 Immigration Documents". Once your dependent receives an F-2 visa and enters the U.S. as an F-2 or receives the change-of-status approval notice by mail you must provide copies of their immigration documents to ISS using the Step 3 e-form.

Change of Status to F-2

If your spouse or child is already inside the U.S. in another non-immigrant status, there are two ways to change ones status to F-2:

  • One way is to travel home or outside the U.S., apply for an F-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate and re-enter the U.S. in the new status.  
  • The other way is to submit a change-of-status application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while remaining in the U.S. If your dependent will change their immigration status in the U.S., then you and your dependent should be sure you understand the Change of Status process. If after reviewing the information you would like to meet with an International Student Advisor to discuss the change-of-status application process please contact our office to schedule an appointment. 
Don't forget to report your dependent's arrival

Once your dependent receives an F-2 visa and enters the U.S. as an F-2 or receives the change-of-status approval notice by mail, you must submit copies of their immigration documents (I-20, passport, F-2 visa and I-94 or change-of-status approval notice) to ISS using the Step 3: F-2 Immigration Documents e-form on UB Global.