J-2 Dependents

Some J-1 students wish to bring their spouse and/or children to the U.S.  Learn about J-2 status and what you need to do to obtain J-2 DS-2019's for your dependents.


Only the spouse and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of a J-1 visa holder may apply for J-2 dependent status. Their eligibility to stay legally in the U.S. is dependent upon the J-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 about J-2 Status

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

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

At the end of the J-1 program, there is a 30-day grace period during which the J-1/J-2 may stay in the U.S. Once the J-1 leaves the U.S., the J-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.


J-2 dependents are eligible to work in the U.S. as long as they meet certain conditions first. Find out about J-2 work authorization on the J-2 Employment Authorization page.


There is no regulatory restriction on study for J-2 dependents. J-2 dependents may study part time or full time in the United States.

Adding a J-2 Dependent

The spouse and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of the J-1 student may be admitted into the U.S. in J-2 classification, if each dependent presents a SEVIS Form DS-2019 issued in his or her own name and a J-2 visa.

In order to obtain DS-2019's for your dependents, you will need to email the documents below to ISS at iss@buffalo.edu.  We will then create a new DS-2019 for you (indicating that you have dependents) and J-2 DS-2019's for your dependents. 

To request a J-2 DS-2019 you will need:

  • Copy of your marriage certificate (if adding a spouse) or birth certificate (if adding a child).  If this document is not in English, it must be translated by a certified translator.
  • 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. 
    • 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. 
  • 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.

Application Process

  1. Send an email to iss@buffalo.edu with the subject line "Adding a J-2 Dependent". In this email, attach a copy of your dependent's biographic page of their passport and either a marriage or birth certificate (depending on the relationship). In the email, please also confirm your expected graduation date and how many credits you will take for the upcoming two semesters. After receiving this email, ISS will send you an estimate of how much financial support you need to show. ISS processing time for this is 7-10 business days.
  2. After receiving your financial estimate, respond to the same email with your financial documents attached. Provided the financial documentation is sufficient, you will be issued a new DS-2019 indicating that you have dependents and J-2 DS-2019's for your dependents. Processing time is 5-7 business days from the date you submit your financial documents.

Change of Status to J-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 J-2:

  • One way is to travel home or outside the U.S., apply for a J-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 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. 
    • Note that if the J-1 was subject to the Two-Year Home Residency requirement (212e), the J-2 will also be subject and therefore not eligible for a change of status inside the U.S. unless they have an approved waiver.
Don't forget to report your dependent's arrival

Once your dependent receives a J-2 visa and enters the U.S. as a J-2 or receives the change-of-status approval notice by mail, you must submit copies of their immigration documents (DS-2019, passport, J-2 visa and I-94 or change-of-status approval notice) to ISS using the Document Upload e-form on UB Global.