F-2 Dependents and Study
Prior to May 2015, F-2 visa holders (dependents of the F-1 student) were not allowed to study in the U.S. with the exception of children in kindergarten to twelfth grade. As of May 29, 2015, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has relaxed its prohibition on F-2 visa holders and their ability to study while in the U.S. In the past, F-2 visa holders of school age higher than High School (usually spouses) were not allowed to study during their time in the U.S. Study was limited to occasional, incidental study that did not lead to obtaining a degree; usually recreational studies or hobbies.
However, as of May 29, 2015, DHS is permitting F-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children to engage in study at an SEVP-certified school that does not amount to a full course of study. See link to Study in the States.
Full course of study is defined as 12 credit hours per semester for Undergraduate students and 9 credit hours per semester for Graduate students, or 18 clock hours for language training at UTEP’s English Language Institute. The F-2 nonimmigrants can still participate full-time in avocational or recreational study (i.e., hobbies and recreational studies).
To maintain valid F-2 status, however, the F-2 visa holder would not be permitted at any time to enroll in a total number of credit hours that would amount to a “full course of study,” as defined by regulation. If an F-2 nonimmigrant wants to enroll in a full course of academic study, he or she needs to apply for and obtain approval to change his or her nonimmigrant classification to F-1.
The Office of International Programs highly recommends that individuals retain personal copies of the information supplied for admission, visas, passports, entry, and benefit-related documents indefinitely. These will facilitate maintenance of F nonimmigrant status and processing of future applications for U.S. immigration benefits.
F-2 Dependents under the Age of 21
The rule does not change existing regulations allowing full-time study by children in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).
An F-2 child that is under the age of 21 and has arrived at the college or university level of study may continue on the F-2 visa and enroll in less than full time. However, once the child reaches the age of 21, they must apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 visa to maintain legal presence in the country and are then required to enroll full time. The same happens if the child wishes to enroll full time or apply for employment benefits tied to the F-1 visa.
F-2 Dependents and Work
Under no circumstance are F-2 visa holders allowed to work in the U.S. Volunteering is allowed. Click here for the definition of Volunteers as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
UTEP International Spouse & Partner Group
Get connected with other spouses and partners at UTEP, make friends, and share resources. Search Facebook for UTEP International Spouse & Partner Group
Schools for Children
The school year starts in August and ends in May. Texas state law requires that all children attend school (or a home study program) from age 6 to 18. Public kindergarten is available in every school system, but is not mandatory.
Kindergarten to Grade 12 Students Information
Institute of Education Sciences (search for schools by postal code)