Complete guide to obtaining an F2 visa, the required documents, the application process, eligibility, and FAQs

Those who have the F1 visa are allowed to study in the US in various education levels, starting from elementary to graduate school. They are also allowed to work in certain situations, but primarily they go to the US to study. In case they have dependents, such as a spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old, they are allowed to bring them to the United States too. This can be done with an F2 dependent visa.

The F2 visa is directly related to the conditions that the F1 visa holder has. There is no cap for it, dependents should just fulfill the requirements and complete the application procedures to get the visa.

Am I Eligible for an F2 Visa?

To be eligible for an F2 visa, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be the spouse of an approved F1 visa holder, or
  • Be the unmarried child under 21 years old of an approved F1 visa holder
  • Have the financial means to support the family during your stay in the US

Besides these conditions there are also documents that you need to compile before you can begin your F2 visa application.

F2 Visa Documents Requirements

Here are the requirements for an F2 visa application:

  • Your current and previous passports.
  • Photocopies of your passport pages.
  • The DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Proof of financial stability. You can use bank or tax records, employment pay slips, etc as proof.
  • A USA Visa Photograph. The photo must be taken within the last six months.
  • Interview confirmation letter.
  • The receipts which prove you have paid the necessary fees.
  • The DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Your original Form I-20 and one copy.
  • A copy of the F1 visa holder’s I-20 form.
  • A copy of the F1 visa (if applicable).
  • If you are applying separately, the copy of the F1 visa holder’s passport.
  • Original marriage certificate if you are the spouse of the F1 visa holder.
    • Genuine marriage proof such as:
      • Wedding album.
      • Wedding guest list.
      • Receipts of wedding spendings.
      • Receipts of honeymoon trips.
    • If married at the registrar, submit the wedding affidavit and pictures of you and your spouse with the wedding witnesses.
  • Original birth certificate if you are the child of the F1 visa holder.

How to Apply for the F2 Visa?

The steps to apply for an F2 visa are as follows below:

  1. Get a Form I-20.
  2. Fill in Form DS-160 online.
  3. Pay the visa fees.
  4. Schedule your visa interview.
  5. Gather and complete your F2 Visa document file.
  6. Attend your interview.

Get a Form I-20

When the F1 visa holder gets accepted into a SEVP institution, the school releases a Form I-20. The form I-20 details the purpose of the visa, an estimate of expenses, and the time the educational program lasts. For the dependents of the F1 visa holder to get an F2 visa, the F1 person should inform the SEVP institution that the dependents also intend to apply for the visa.

With this information, the SEVP institution will also compile and release a form I-20 for the dependents too. Each person who wants to apply for an F2 visa must have a form I-20 to qualify for an F2 visa. After getting this form, the application procedure follows similar procedures to other visas.

Fill in Form DS-160 online

The DS-160 form should be submitted online with all the necessary information. When you submit it, the page will generate a barcode and confirmation page which you need to retain for later on.

Pay the visa fees

The F2 visa has an application fee of $160. You must pay this fee to be able to proceed with the application. Upon completion of payment, you will get a receipt that proves it and you should keep it for later on. There might also be other fees depending on the country or US Embassy you are applying from, such as visa issuance fees or reciprocity fees.

Whereas the F1 visa holder is responsible for also paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, the F2 visa applicant is exempt from this fee.

Schedule your visa interview

As an F2 applicant, you can apply at the same time as the F1 applicant, or you can apply separately. If you are applying together, you can schedule the visa interview at the same time. This procedure is actually recommended. However, if you are applying separately, you need to schedule your own visa interview. When scheduled, you will get an interview confirmation letter which you will show to the officers at the US Embassy to prove you have an appointment.

Gather and complete your F2 Visa document file

When you go for your visa interview, you need a file with the required documents. Make sure that the file is complete and there are no important documents missing because your application depends on it.

Attend your interview

Go to your visa interview on time with all the necessary documents. You will have questions regarding your relationship with the F1 visa holder and your intentions for being in the US. If the visa interviewer suspects that you are hiding something or that you intend to violate F2 visa rules, they will deny your visa.

What is the processing time for the F2 Visa?

Processing times vary for visas due to the differences and workloads in US Embassies. After your F2 interview, you might get a response immediately from your interviewer on whether you got the visa or you were denied. However, it is more common that the wait will be a few days or weeks.

This is because the US Embassy will take their time to look over your documents and responses. They will particularly focus on you and the F1 visa holder’s financial situation to determine whether you can cover your expenses while in the US. So if your F2 visa processing is taking too long, do not be alarmed as the US Embassy either has a heavy workload or is taking their time to analyze your case.

What Can I Do With an F2 Visa?

Since the F2 visa is directly related to the F1 visa, it will have the same validity. If your spouse on an F1 visa is allowed to stay in the US for 2 years, your F2 visa will also have a validity of 2 years.3

Extend your stay

In case the F1 visa holder extends their stay by getting a new Form I-20, you as their dependent will also get a renewal. To get your F2 visa renewed, you should file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. You should attach proof of your relationship with the primary F1 visa holder and financial evidence that you have enough funds to cover your stay.

Change your status

With an F2 visa, you are also allowed to apply to change your status. If you enroll in an academic degree with an SEVP approved institution, you will have to apply for an F1 visa and you might get a change of status. In addition, if you find a job which requires an H type work visa such as an H-1B visa, you and your employer can petition with USCIS and follow the appropriate procedures to change your status.

If you are the unmarried child under 21 years old of an F1 visa holder and you turn 21 while in the US, you will have to apply for a different type of visa to remain in the US. This is because you will no longer qualify as the dependent of the F1 visa holder and will have to return to your home country if you do not get a different type of US visa.

Get a green card

If the F1 visa holder applies and gets a Green Card, you as their dependent on an F2 visa, automatically get the Green Card too. However, you can also try to apply yourself. If you find an employer willing to sponsor you, you can file for an Employment Based Green Card. Otherwise, you could also change status to a different visa which allows dual intent and apply for the Green Card.

Have access to healthcare

You can have access to American hospitals and medical facilities as an F2 visa holder. However, the cost of treatment may be unbearable for you, as US healthcare costs are the highest in the world. They range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. A simple service such as a night at the hospital may cost more than $3000.

Thus, you are strongly advised to purchase a health insurance plan for F2 visa holders.

What are the Limitations of the F2 Visa?

With the F2 visa being a dependent visa, there are many restrictions to what you can and cannot do while in the US. The purpose of the F2 visa is for families to remain together while the person with the F1 visa gets their educational degree, which can be for several years. It has no other purpose, and that is why these are the limitations to having it.

You are not allowed to work on an F2 visa

There are no F2 visa work permits. Your F1 spouse or parent has proved that they can afford to cover the expenses of you living in the US, so there are no forms of paid employment you can take up within the US. You can volunteer or do unpaid work, but you are not allowed to get into any employment agreement.

You are not allowed to get a Social Security Number (SSN)

Since you’re not allowed to work, you cannot get an SSN either. You are only eligible to get an ITIN number for tax purposes.

You are not allowed to enroll in a full educational degree

The F2 visa does not allow you to enroll in a degree or credit bearing education. So you cannot complete a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree with this visa. You are only allowed to enroll in recreational, vocational, and non-credit bearing courses for hobbies or fun.

In addition, if you are a child dependent of an F1 visa holder, you are only allowed to complete elementary and middle school in the US. You will not be allowed to enroll  in high school on an F2 visa. To do so, you will need to apply for a change of status.

You cannot travel to the US before the F1 visa holder

If you are entering the US for the first time, you must either be accompanied by the F1 visa holder or travel after them. You cannot travel to the US before the F1 visa holder has been allowed entry into the country.

However, there are no other travel restrictions after you enter the US the first time. You can travel in and out of the country anytime without being accompanied by the F1 visa holder.

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