Dependents and Family

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 Requirements 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). Here are some resources:

  • 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, 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 Scholar Health Insurance.
  • 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.

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

Scholars wishing to invite family and friends to come for a short visit may want to 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.

Bringing Dependents for Rice-sponsored J-1 Visa Holders

J-1 students and scholars at Rice 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 follow the steps below:

  1. Complete the J-2 Dependent Request Form and bring it to OISS with the following:
    • Copy of your dependent's passport ID page
    • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
    • Proof of financial support in the amount of $4860/spouse/year (or $405/month) and $1900/child/year (or $150/month)
  2. Request a letter of support from the OISS addressed to the visa-issuing officer in support of the J-2 visa application for the dependent.
  3. 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)
  4. Provide your dependent with the following documents to take to the visa interview:
    • Original DS-2019 for each dependent (Please note that the DS-2019 forms may not under any circumstances be sent electronically)
    • Financial support documentation
    • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
    • Copy of your passport, J-1 visa, and I-94 record
    • Copy of your DS-2019
    • Copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt
    • Copy of your Rice offer / acceptance letter
    • OISS supporting letter for J-2 visa interview
  5. Once your 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. We also invite all J-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar).

Bringing Dependents for Rice-sponsored 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 follow the steps below:

  1. Complete the F-2 Dependent Request Form and bring it to OISS with the following:
    • Copy of your dependent's passport ID page
    • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
    • Proof of financial support in the amount of $4000/dependent
  2. Request a letter of support from the OISS addressed to the visa-issuing officer in support of the F-2 visa application for the dependent.
  3. 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)
  4. Provide your dependent with the following documents to take to the visa interview:
    • Original I-20 for each dependent
    • Financial support documentation
    • Proof of relationship (i.e. copy of marriage certificate or birth certificate)
    • Copy of your passport, F-1 visa, I-94 record, and EAD
    • Copy of your I-20
    • Copy of your SEVIS fee payment receipt
    • Copy of your Rice offer / acceptance letter
    • OISS supporting letter for F-2 visa interview
  5. Once your 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). We also invite all F-2 dependents to attend an OISS Dependent Orientation (schedule available on our Event Calendar).