UKIC / International Student & Scholar Services / Student Services / Dependents



Family members who are eligible for dependent status include the spouse and/or minor children (under 21 years of age) of an F-1 or J-1 student.  An I-20 or DS-2019 with its own SEVIS number is issued for dependents who will accompany the student.  

Students who initially come alone but later want their dependents to join them will need to complete an Add SEVIS Dependent e-form in iCAT.    The dependent eligibility for valid status is based on the student maintaining his or her F-1/ J-1 Status.

Study in F-2 Status

The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may not engage in full-time study.  F-2 dependents may study part time in any certified program at a school certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), so long as the study does not amount to what regulations define as full time for an F-1 student. F-2 children may only engage in full time study if it is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). 

Study in J-2 Status

There are no restrictions on study for J-2 dependents; however, they can maintain their status only as long as their spouse is in J-1 status.

Employment in F-2 Status

Individuals in F-2 status may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstances.  F-2 dependents are not eligible for Social Security numbers.

Employment in J-2 Status

Individuals in J-2 status may accept employment if they have received authorization from the USCIS. 

J-2 dependents may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS by submitting the I-765 application.  The form can be found at in the Forms tab.   Employment cannot begin before the start date on the EAD. 


  • The J-1 Exchange Visitor must be in valid status. 
  • The income derived from the employment may not be used to support the J-1 spouse. 
  • Employment may begin only after receiving the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.  Employment cannot continue past the expiration date of the EAD, so it is advisable to file for an extension no later than 3 months before it expires.  The EAD with a new expiration date must be received before employment can continue. 
  • The EAD authorizes employment with no restrictions regarding the employer or the salary. 


  • Form I-765 found at   
    Answer to #16 on I-765 is (C) (5). 
  • Letter to the USCIS requesting permission to work 
  • Copy of I-94 of J-1 and J-2 (
  • Copies of current SEVIS DS-2019 of J-1 and J-2 
  • Copy of previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable. 
  • Filing fee as noted on the I-765 instructions, with payment to “Department of Homeland Security” 
  • Copy of the following passport pages: 
  • Biographical page 
  • J-2 visa 
  • Include passport renewal page, if applicable 
  • Two photographs placed in a small envelope. 
  • Lightly print in pencil name of J-2 and I-94 Departure number on the back of each photo. 

Mail completed application to address listed on the USCIS website. 

When you begin work, your employer will ask you to complete Form 1-9, which requires you to document your work authorization.  Your EAD card is acceptable proof both of your identity and your permission to work. 

If your J-2 status expires, so will your EAD.  If your J-1 spouse is approved for an extension of status, you will be issued an extended DS-2019.  This is required before you can apply for an extension of your EAD. When you have the new EAD, you will need to update the Form 1-9 with your employer.  A pending application for extension of status or for a new EAD does not authorize you to continue working 

You cannot apply for a Social Security number until you receive your employment authorization.   Upon receiving your EAD, you can obtain a Social Security card by submitting the following documents to the Social Security Administration (SSA): 

Social Security Administration, Suite 110, 2241 Buena Vista Rd., Lexington, Kentucky 40505 

The earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes, and Social Security, and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from paychecks.  Every year by April 15, you must file an income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) covering the prior calendar year.  The return determines whether you owe more taxes or will receive a refund.

Dependent Travel

F-2 and J-2 dependents may depart and re-enter the United States with proper documentation.  If a dependent wishes to travel outside the US for a temporary visit, they must be sure that their I-20 or DS-2019 is endorsed for travel by a Student Immigration Specialist in Bradley Hall.  Once signed, the travel signature is valid for one year. 

If a dependent travels outside the United States and seeks readmission, they will need to have the following: 

  • A current Form I-20/ DS-2019 that certifies admissibility, (i.e. signature on page 3 approving travel). Each dependent must have an individual Form I-20 or DS-2019 
  • A valid visa unless from Canada or Bermuda 
  • The primary (F-1 or J-1) must be in active student status