Family & Dependents

An F-1 or J-1 student may bring their spouse and children to the U.S. These family members are admitted as F-2 or J-2 dependents. The International Office will issue an I-20 or DS-2019 for a fiancé(e), but keep in mind that in order to obtain a dependent F-2 or J-2 visa, your spouse will need to demonstrate proof of the marriage during the visa interview. Dependent children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age. For information regarding newly admitted students who wish to bring immediate family members, please visit the Applying for a Student Visa section of the New Students section.

F-1/J-1 students may add a spouse or children as F-2/J-2 dependents. To add a dependent, the following items must be submitted to the IO for review:

  • Financial documentation; A copy of your proof of funding, such as a recent official bank statement; a letter (on bank letterhead with the bank officer’s signature, seal or stamp) confirming your funds; or a Northwestern University letter of funding. Multiple funding sources are permitted. Amounts should reflect at least $6,300 for a spouse, and $4,300 per child.
  • A copy of the dependent's passport identification page
  • F-1/J-1 Dependent Request Form.

Processing Time: Completed applications may take 3-5 days to process.

For more information and resources for International Spouses and Families, please click here.

For F-2 Spouses

F-2 spouses may only enroll in classes that are avocational and recreational in nature. This means that any classes that F-2 spouses take should be recreational in nature or done as a hobby. F-2 spouses may not be enrolled in a full-time or degree-seeking program. F-2 children may only engage in full-time study at the K-12 level. Further, F-2 dependents may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstance. Please see an advisor at the IO if you have questions.

For J-2 Spouses

The J-2 visa category is for dependents (husband/wife and/or unmarried children under the age of 21) of the J-1 Exchange Visitor. All J-1 visa regulations which apply to the J-1 EV, also apply to the J-2 dependent including 212 (e) home residency requirements.

Health Insurance Requirements:

The Department of State regulations governing the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program require that all J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents have health insurance coverage that meets the following requirements. It is your responsibility to monitor that you and your dependents have such insurance while living with you in the US; failure to comply with this regulation could result in the loss of your J-1 status.

  • Medical benefits of at least $50,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $7,500
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $10,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.


J-2 dependents are eligible for full or part time study. If a J-2 spouse wishes to enroll in a full-time degree-seeking program at NU or any other post-secondary institution, it may be advantageous to consider a change of visa status to F-1 or J-1 student.


J-2 dependents are eligible for full or part time employment. J-2 dependents must file form I-765 with USCIS and receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card before beginning employment. For more information on how to apply for J-2 employment authorization, please access our J-2 Employment Authorization Guide.