Changing Status to F-2

General Information

The dependent spouse and children of F-1 students are eligible to enter and be present in the United States in F-2 dependent status. The F-2 dependents are permitted to remain in the United States for the duration of the status of the primary F-1 student. This period includes any authorized practical training and the 60-day grace period following the completion of studies or practical training.

Each dependent requires an I-20 form to be eligible for F-2 status. An I-20 for each dependent must be requested by the primary F-1 student from ISSA by completing and submitting the F-2 Dependent I-20 Request eform with the appropriate documentation in ISSAlink. ISSA will then issue a new I-20 for each dependent indicated on the request form.

Please note that the issuance of the dependent I-20 does not automatically change the status of the dependent. Once an I-20 form has been issued, the dependent may initiate a change of status to F-2 by either departing the U.S. and applying for an F-2 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad or by filing an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to change immigration status to F-2 within the U.S.

Travel and Reentry with an F-2 Visa

Dependents who are outside the U.S. or who are present in the U.S. in another immigration status and will travel outside the U.S. during the primary F-1 student’s program may apply for an F-2 visa from a U.S. consulate abroad to enter the U.S. in F-2 status. However, it is not necessary for an individual who changes status to F-2 within the U.S. to obtain a new visa unless the individual departs the U.S. and then wishes to return in F-2 status.

Changing Status to F-2 Within the United States

Dependents who are already present in the U.S. in another immigration status may normally apply within the U.S. to change status to F-2 without departing the country. However, the following nonimmigrants are not permitted to change to F-2 status from within the U.S.: C, D, and K nonimmigrants, M-1 students, J-1 physicians admitted to receive graduate medical education or training and their dependents, J nonimmigrants who are subject to INA §212(e)—the 2-year home country physical presence requirement, and those admitted to the U.S. as WT or WB visitors under the Visa Waiver Program. Dependents who wish to apply and are eligible to change status within the U.S. must file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service prior to the expiration of their current immigration status. Processing times can vary, but applications to change status may take up to five (5) months. Applicants should ensure that they are able to maintain status during an extended processing time. Depending on the applicant’s previous immigration status, a delay or a denial may result in the applicant being unlawfully present in the U.S. and being compelled to depart the country. To change status to F-2 inside the U.S., the dependent must file an application with the USCIS lockbox facility that has jurisdiction over the dependent’s U.S. residence. The application must include the following documents:

  • Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • I-539 filing fee ($370)
  • Cover letter from the applicant indicating the applicant’s original status, the status requested and the circumstances or reason the change is being requested
  • COPY of Dependent I-20 (signed by the primary F-1 student)
  • COPY of I-94 record (look it up here)
  • COPY of the financial documentation provided to ISSA that demonstrates the dependent has financial support
  • COPIES of the applicant’s:
    • Passport (biographical and issuance/expiration information)
    • Visa (most recent, if available)
  • COPIES of the primary student’s:
    • I-20 forms (Must submit all I-20s)
    • Passport (biographical and issuance/expiration information)
    • I-94 card (front and back)
    • Visa (most recent, if available)

It is strongly recommended that applicants for a change of status consult with an advisor and/or allow ISSA to review the application prior to submitting it to USCIS.

Filing Address

Filling address information can be found here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Applicants who depart the U.S. after a change of status to F-2 must obtain an F-2 visa from a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. in order to return to the U.S. in F-2 status.

Revised 07/14/2017