Immigration



If you are or will be in the U.S. as a family member in F-2 or F-1 visa status, you should familiarize yourself with the most important regulations concerning your visa status:  



Your Immigration Paperwork
 
 Consists of passport; I-20 (F-2) or DS-2019 (J-2); I-94 card; and visa stamp. Your passport      must   be valid at all times.

Principal and Dependent
 
The person in F-1 or J-1 status is called the Principal. Persons in F-2 or J-2 status are called Dependents, because their status is dependent on the status of the Principal. Only spouses and children under 21 years of age can be in Dependent status.

Legal
Status

In general, you are in legal immigration status as long as the Principal is in legal status. You can lose legal status if you or the Principal fail to follow the immigration regulations.

Status Changes
 

Any request to change from one immigration status to another must be approved by the U.S. Government. Contact ISS early if planning to request a change of status, because this is generally a time-intensive process.


Travel Inside the U.S
 
Always carry your original immigration paperwork whenever you leave the Bryan/College Station area. When in Bryan/College Station, carry copies of your immigration documents!
Absence from U.S
 
If you are a Dependent, you can remain outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, as long as the Principal is maintaining status. Long absences from the U.S. will not invalidate your visa before its expiration date.


Principal Visa Holder outside U.S
 
Dependents can only remain in the U.S. as long as the Principal is in the U.S.( Exception: Principal leaving the U.S. for less than 3 weeks).

Public Assistance



 
The rules associated with your status do not allow that you or your family members take advantage of public assistance programs, including Medicaid, Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To comply with immigration regulations, do not sign up for any federally funded programs. Please also check with ISS before accepting any type of free social or medical service that may be offered.

Working

 
Persons in F-2 status are not authorized to accept employment or engage in any activities for which they will be compensated in cash or in kind.For your protection, discuss all volunteer opportunities with ISS before accepting. Note: Investing in the stock market is not considered employment and is allowed.

Studies






 
Adult persons in F-2 status are allowed to take University-level coursework on a part-time basis only.  Recreational classes and basic English language classes are allowed as well. F-2 visa holders may also audit classes. If a person in F-2 status is admitted to a school on a full-time enrollment basis, s/he must change to a status that allows studying full-time. The new status must be approved before s/he can enroll in classes full-time. Dependent children in F-2 status need to be enrolled in classes as per state law. They can enroll in Kindergarten through High School on their F-2 immigration documents.

Health Insurance

 
Health insurance is not required for persons in F-2 status, unless enrolled in University-level  courses. However, health insurance is very highly recommended to help pay for very expensive U.S. health care. 


Working




 
Persons in J-2 status are authorized to accept employment, provided they have a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) and valid immigration papers. The EAD card is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Persons in J-2 status have to re-apply yearly for an extension of their EAD card.

Studies
 
Persons in J-2 status can pursue any kind of education without changing status and without any restrictions on how many hours they are enrolled.

Health Insurance

 
All persons in J status – including Dependents - must have valid health insurance coverage as long as their DS-2019 is valid, even if they are outside the U.S. Failure to have health insurance will result in status termination for Principal and Dependents.

Homestay and other Restrictions
 
Any restrictions that apply to the person in J-1 status also apply to Dependents. For example, if  the Principal is subject to Section 212(e) (Homestay Requirement), the requirement applies to      his  or her Dependents, too.