Dependents and Family for Students

The process for bringing your dependents (as defined by USCIS or DHS, the spouses or unmarried minor children under 21 years of age) to the U.S. depends on your immigration status. For students and scholars on J-1 or F-1 status, you need to request for a dependent DS-2019 or I-20 from your program sponsor (for Rice-sponsored J-1 and F-1 students and scholars, please see procedures below). For questions regarding dependents on any other visa status, please consult an OISS advisor.

Immigration Regulations for Dependents

Dependents are subject to their own immigration requirements. To learn more, we invite all dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar).

Work Authorization

Eligibility for work authorization depends on your visa status. F-2 dependents are never allowed to work under any circumstances, but J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for an EAD card through USCIS for an application fee of $410. For more information, please see the J-2 Work Authorization Handout (For the cover letter template, click here). For additional questions on work authorization for dependents on all visa types, please feel free to schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor.

Study

Click here for a helpful chart showing which non-immigrant dependent visas permit studying in the U.S. For additional information, please feel free to schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor.

Insurance Requirements

We strongly recommend that all dependents in the U.S. have health insurance, as health care in the U.S. is very expensive without insurance. In addition, J-2 visa holders are legally required to maintain health insurance that meets the requirements set for the J Visa. For more information, please see our webpage on Understanding the J-1 Visa Health Insurance Requirement.

Taxes

Dependents who are present in the U.S. during the tax year are required to file tax forms, even if they have not worked. For more information, please see our Tax Resources.

Departure Notification

Any dependent departing the U.S. prior to the primary visa holder with no intent to return on their dependent status must notify OISS for proper reporting. Notification may be done through the online Departure Form, or by email.

Adding a Dependent for F-1 Visa Holders

F-1 students and scholars on a Rice-issued I-20 may request for an F-2 dependent I-20 for their legally married spouse, or unmarried children under the age of 21. If you would like to add an F-2 dependent, please complete the online Dependent Request Form and upload the following documents:
1. Copy of dependent's passport ID page
2. Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
3. Proof of financial support in the amount of $4000 per dependent

Applying for F-2 Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad

If the dependent is not in the United States, or chooses to get the F-2 status through travel, they need to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy to apply for the F-2 visa. (Exception: Please note that Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate). The visa application fee will apply, but dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

It is recommended to confirm the required documentation on the website of the Consulate where the dependent will apply for the visa, but typically the following documents are needed:

  • F-2 I-20
  • Financial support documentation
  • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
  • Copy of F-1's I-20
  • Copies of F-1's passport, F-1 visa, I-94 record, and EAD card if on OPT
  • Copy F-1's SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Copy of F-1's Rice offer letter or proof of employment if on OPT
  • OISS supporting letter for F-2 visa interview, which may be requested online

After the dependent is approved for an F-2 visa, they may enter the United States in F-2 status using their I-20. Once the F-2 dependents arrive in the U.S., they must provide OISS with copies of all their immigration documents (i.e. I-20, passport, F-2 visa stamp, I-94 record) at https://bit.ly/dependent-docs. We also invite all F-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar) after their arrival to the United States.

Applying for Change of Status within the United States

If the dependent is already in the U.S. on another valid non-immigrant visa status, they may apply for a change of status within the U.S. by submitting an application to USCIS. To be eligible for a change of status, the application must be received by USCIS prior to the end date of their current non-immigrant status. The dependent should not leave the United States while the change of status petition is pending.

Instructions for the Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status are available at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539. It is recommended to read the instructions on the USCIS website carefully before submitting the application to confirm current requirements, but typically the following documents are needed:

  • Completed Form I-539 (may also be filed online)
  • Required application and biometrics fees as indicated at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539
  • Cover letter explaining the circumstances leading to the need for a change of status
  • F-2 I-20
  • Financial support documentation
  • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
  • Copy of dependent's passport
  • Proof of dependent's current immigration status, i.e. I-94 record
  • Copy of F-1's I-20
  • Copies of F-1's passport, F-1 visa, I-94 record, and EAD card if on OPT
  • Copy of F-1's SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Copy of F-1's Rice offer letter or proof of employment if on OPT

You are welcome to consult an immigration attorney for assistance in filing the change of status petition. If you choose to file the petition independently, please keep in mind that you are responsible for following all USCIS requirements and instructions as posted at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539.

Once the change of status has been approved by USCIS, the dependent must provide OISS with copies of all their immigration documents (i.e. I-20, passport, I-797A Approval Notice from USCIS confirming the change of status) at https://bit.ly/dependent-docs. We also invite all F-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar).

Click here for the online Dependent Request Form.

Adding a Dependent for J-1 Visa Holders

J-1 students and scholars on a Rice-issued DS-2019 may request for a J-2 dependent DS-2019 for their legally married spouse, or unmarried children under the age of 21. If you would like to add a J-2 dependent, please complete the online Dependent Request Form and upload the following documents:
1. Copy of dependent's passport ID page
2. Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
3. Proof of financial support in the amount of $4000 per dependent

Applying for J-2 Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad

If the dependent is not in the United States, or chooses to get the J-2 status through travel, they need to schedule an appointment at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy to apply for the J-2 visa. (Exception: Please note that Canadian citizens are not required to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate). The visa application fee will apply, but dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.

It is recommended to confirm the required documentation on the website of the Consulate where the dependent will apply for the visa, but typically the following documents are needed:

  • J-2 DS-2019 (Please note that the DS-2019 forms may not be sent electronically)
  • Financial support documentation
  • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
  • Copy of J-1's DS-2019
  • Copies of J-1's passport, J-1 visa, and I-94 record
  • Copy J-1's SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Copy of J-1's Rice offer letter
  • OISS supporting letter for J-2 visa interview, which may be requested online

After the dependent is approved for a J-2 visa, they may enter the United States in J-2 status using their DS-2019. Once the J-2 dependents arrive in the U.S., they must provide OISS with copies of all their immigration documents (i.e. DS-2019, passport, J-2 visa stamp, I-94 record) and proof of health insurance coverage at https://bit.ly/dependent-docs. We also invite all J-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar) after their arrival to the United States.

Applying for Change of Status within the United States

If the dependent is already in the U.S. on another valid non-immigrant visa status, they may apply for a change of status within the U.S. by submitting an application to USCIS. To be eligible for a change of status, the application must be received by USCIS prior to the end date of their current non-immigrant status. The dependent should not leave the United States while the change of status petition is pending.

Instructions for the Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status are available at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539. It is recommended to read the instructions on the USCIS website carefully before submitting the application to confirm current requirements, but typically the following documents are needed:

  • Completed Form I-539 (may also be filed online)
  • Required application and biometrics fees as indicated at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539
  • Cover letter explaining the circumstances leading to the need for a change of status
  • J-2 DS-2019
  • Financial support documentation
  • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
  • Copy of dependent's passport
  • Proof of dependent's current immigration status, i.e. I-94 record
  • Copy of J-1's DS-2019
  • Copies of J-1's passport, J-1 visa, and -94 record
  • Copy of J-1's SEVIS fee payment receipt
  • Copy of J-1's Rice offer letter

You are welcome to consult an immigration attorney for assistance in filing the change of status petition. If you choose to file the petition independently, please keep in mind that you are responsible for following all USCIS requirements and instructions as posted at https://www.uscis.gov/i-539.

Once the change of status has been approved by USCIS, the dependent must provide OISS with copies of all their immigration documents (i.e. DS-2019, passport, I-797A Approval Notice from USCIS confirming the change of status) and proof of health insurance at https://bit.ly/dependent-docs. We also invite all J-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar).

Click here for the online Dependent Request Form.

Programs for Dependents

OISS has a variety of programs in which dependents of international scholars are invited to participate. Some of these programs include:

Inviting Family & Friends for Visit

Students wishing to invite family and friends to come to the U.S. for a short visit may request an Invitation Letter of Support from OISS to assist with their B-2 Tourist visa application. These letters are requested through our website, and are issued within 2 business days.