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Visas for Spouses and Children

An F-1 or J-1 student may bring his or her spouse and children to the U.S. These family members are admitted as F-2 or J-2 dependents. Jump to information about restrictions for these visa statuses.

About this classification:

  • Dependent children must be unmarried and under 21 years of age.
  • The Office of International Student and Scholar Services will issue an I-20 or DS-2019 for a fianceé(e), but you will need to demonstrate proof of marriage during the visa interview to obtain F-2 or J-2 status.

How to Apply for Dependent Visa Status

F-1/J-1 students hoping to add a spouse or children as F-2/J-2 dependents must submit the following information through the OISS Portal when applying for your I-20/DS-2019:

  • Financial documentation, in the form of: (1) a copy of your proof of funding, such as a recent official bank statement; (2) a letter (on bank letterhead with the bank officer’s signature, seal or stamp) confirming your funds; or (3) a Northwestern University letter of funding.
    Multiple funding sources are permitted.
  • Amounts should reflect at least $7,320 per year (or $610 per month) for each dependent (spouse or child).
  • A copy of the dependent's passport identification page

Processing time for completed applications is one week.

F-2 Dependent Visa Restrictions


  • F-2 spouses may study part-time. This means an F-2 spouse can begin a part-time academic program at Northwestern or another area university. 
  • F-2 children may study full-time in K-12 schools (elementary, middle/junior high and high school).


F-2 dependents may not accept employment or engage in business under any circumstance. Please contact an advisor in our office if you have questions.

J-2 Dependent Visa Restrictions

All J-1 visa regulations which apply to the J-1 Exchange Visitor, also apply to the J-2 dependent including 212 (e) home residency requirements.


  • 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.

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.

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
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.