Bringing Family to the United States

Students and scholars who wish to bring family members to the United States may do so in one of two different ways, depending on the nature of the familial relationship:

  • If the family member is a legally-married spouse or a dependent child (unmarried children under the age of 21 years) she/he is eligible for derivative dependent status.  For example, F-2, J-2, H-4, and O-3 classifications can be obtained by dependents of F-1, J-1, H1B, and O-1 visa/status holders, respectively.  The derivative status of the dependent will last for the duration of the primary visa holder’s non-immigrant status. (Note that while Canadian citizens will not require visa stamps in their passports they must still be admitted to the United States with the proper non-immigrant classification at the port of entry).
  • If the family member is not a spouse or dependent child (for example, a parent, sibling, child over the age of 21, or fiancé), she/he can apply for B-2 tourist status.  The duration of B-2 status will be a maximum of six months. In all cases, adequate funding to support the invited family members must be documented.

F-2/J-2 Status (Spouse or Dependent Child of an F-1 or J-1 Student)

If you or a family member are applying for an F-2 or J-2 visa and plan to travel to the United States with the F-1 or J-1 visa holder, you should visit the consulate together and apply for visa stamps. The dependent must provide the necessary legal documents establishing his or her relationship to the principal visa holder, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. Contact the embassy/ consulate ahead of time to find out which documents are required. Consulate officials will also expect to see proof of adequate financial support for family members, along with all I-20s that have been issued to you by Georgia State.

If you or a family member are applying for an F-2 or J-2 visa and traveling to the United States separately from the F-1 or J-1 visa holder, family members will need legal documents establishing your/their relationship to the principal visa holder. In addition, they will need documents showing proof of financial support during their stay in the United States and an I-20 issued to the dependent. To have ISSS issue a dependent I-20 form, please read and fill out the I-20 Request Form. Bring it along with a copy of the spouse/child’s passport to the ISSS office when you speak with an advisor. ISSS requires evidence of funding in the amount of $4500 per year for a spouse, and $2500 per year per child in order to issue new DS-2019 or I-20 forms (for J-2 or F-2 dependents).

Adding Dependents Checklist

If you are interested in bringing your spouse or dependent child to the U.S. as an F-2 or J-2 dependent, please follow these steps:

  1. Meet with an International Student Advisor during advising hours. Bring a copy of your dependent’s passport and the financial documents you will use to request the dependent visa. You will need to show the amount you originally needed to be admitted to GSU, plus an additional $4,500 (for a spouse) and/or $2,500 (per child) to cover the dependent’s living expenses.  If you have questions about the specific financial requirements, please talk to an International Student Advisor.
  2. Fill out a Request for New I-20 and turn this form in, along with the financial documents and passport copy.
  3. After you turn in the required documents, the advisor will create an F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019 for your dependent. You can then send the I-20 or DS-2019 to your spouse or child in your home country.
  4. Your dependent should make a visa appointment in her/his home country. Please see above for more details.
  5. After your dependent obtains the visa, he or she can travel to the U.S.  Within 30 days after your dependent’s arrival, you will need to arrange for health insurance.  If you are currently insured by Pearce and Pearce, you can apply for dependent insurance at an additional cost.  If you are covered by a different insurance company, contact your insurance company to learn of your possible options. For more information on insurance for dependents please see the Health Insurance information on the ISSS website.
  6. Your dependent(s) are not eligible for a Social Security Number, but s/he can get a Georgia driver’s license if they are at least 16 years old.