The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the F-1 Student or J-1 Exchange Visitor are eligible for F-2 or J-2 dependent status. A J-1 Exchange Visitor at Penn can be either a “student” or “scholar.”

ISSS wants to provide a welcoming environment for your dependents. Please visit International Spouses and Partners @ Penn (ISPP) for information on events and resources available to you and your family. 

  • How can my dependent acquire F-2/J-2 status?
  • Each F-2/J-2 dependent must have his/her own I-20/DS-2019.  The I-20/DS2019 can be obtained from ISSS by the F-1/J-1 status holder. The F-2 dependent I-20 should be signed by the F-1 student.  Once dependents have their I-20/DS-2019, they must either:

    1. Apply for an F-2/J-2 US Entry Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate overseas (except Canadian citizens) and gain F-2/J-2 status through entry to the US by presenting their:
      • dependent I-20/DS-2019
      • passport and
      • and F-2/J-2 US Entry Visa (accompanied by any supporting documents) at the US Port of Entry; OR
    2. Apply for a Change of Status within the US (please meet with an advisor at ISSS for further details)
  • Initial & Continuing F-1/J-1 Students
  • Initial F-1/J-1 Students

    • If you are applying for your own initial I-20/DS-2019 and will be accompanied by dependent(s), you need to be sure to include dependent information (and funding should be adequate) in the appropriate section of the I-20/DS-2019 application.
    • You need to submit the I-20/DS-2019 Application for F-2/J-2 Dependents (see application instructions below). More information can be found in New Student Immigration.

    Continuing F-1/J-1 Students

    • If you are already in the US and requesting a dependent I-20/DS-2019 you need to submit the I-20/DS-2019 Application for F-2/J-2 Dependents (see application instructions below).
  • How to apply for an I-20/DS-2019 for your dependent(s)?
  • Use the application in iPenn (see logo at the bottom of this section) to obtain an I-20/ DS-2019 form to bring your spouse and/or dependent children to the US.

    • Use the link for I-20/DS-2019 Application for Dependents in the Admission section of iPenn
    • Parents or other relatives are NOT eligible to be F-2/J-2 dependents.
    • ISSS will issue an I-20/ DS-2019 for a fiancé(e), but keep in mind that in order to obtain a US Entry 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.

    You must demonstrate the ability to support your dependents by providing proof of additional funding ($6,000 for a spouse and $4,000 for each child) in addition to the funds used to cover your tuition, fees, and living expenses. This amount must be shown regardless of the length of time your dependent(s) will stay in the US.

    Required 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 University of Pennsylvania letter of funding. See the section below for acceptable sources of funding. Multiple funding sources are permitted.
    • Photocopy of your I-94 card (front and back if issued paper I-94) or US entry/admission stamp in passport  (if issued electronic I-94). Refer to the automated I-94 process
    • Copies of the passport identification page for each dependent, where available.

    What Funding Sources are Acceptable?

    • Liquid assets (generally checking or savings accounts)
    • Scholarships, grants or fellowships from Penn or a non-Penn source

    Not Acceptable

    • Non-liquid assets (stocks or mutual funds)
    • Assessments of the value of real estate or other property
    • A letter stating the salary of a parent or other sponsor
  • Health Insurance Requirement for J-1/J-2 Dependents
  • All J-1 and J-2 status holders must carry adequate health insurance coverage, as mandated by the Department of State. J-1 scholars must purchase insurance for him/herself and his/her J-2 dependents immediately upon arrival in the US.

    • Failure to maintain this mandatory health insurance means violating federal immigration regulations. J-1 students in such violation are subject to termination as participants; and must leave the US immediately.

    DOS required insurance coverage must meet the following:

    • Medical insurance must cover the entire period of participation in the Exchange Visitor program.
    • Medical benefits must provide a minimum of $50,000 per accident or illness.
    • Medical evacuation must be covered in the amount of $10,000, minimum. (Medical evacuation is emergency medical transportation to the home country.)
    • Repatriation must be covered in the amount of $7,500, minimum (In the unfortunate event of death, repatriation is the transportation of remains back to the home country.)
    • The deductible must not exceed $500 per accident or illness.

    The University’s employee health insurance plan coverage varies, so check for specific coverage. 

    • If the J-1/J-2 is covered under the Penn's postdoc insurance plan, s/he meets the DOS insurance coverage requirements. 
    • Some of Penn’s employee health insurance plans do not cover repatriation and medical evacuation. So, the J-1/J-2 should purchase supplemental insurance to cover repatriation and medical evacuation. 
  • Employment
  • F-2 Dependents are NOT eligible to work.

    J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1.

    Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, part 214.2(j)(1(v) states:

    "Income from the spouse's or dependent's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien."

    PLEASE NOTE: Anyone who earns money in the US must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes. You may apply for a social security number only after you have received your EAD card. J-2 status holders are subject to social security taxes, federal income taxes and, where applicable, state and local income taxes.

    To apply for permission to work in the US please read and print the Application Procedures.

  • Study while in F-2/J-2 Status
  • Study regulations differ between the status categories.

    F-2 Dependents:

    • F-2 spouses are NOT allowed to pursue a course of study.
    • F-2 spouses may take 1-2 recreational courses, but are NOT eligible to participate in courses leading toward a degree or academic program.
    • F-2 children can participate in full-time elementary or secondary study (kindergarten through twelfth grade.)

    J-2 Dependents:

    • J-2 children are permitted to enroll in elementary or secondary schools while in the U.S.
    • Currently, the regulations do not have a prohibition for J-2s engaging in post-secondary study on a full-time basis, as long as their primary purpose in the U.S. is to accompany the J-1 status holder.
  • Extension of Stay
    • The duration of the F-1/J-1 status holder's program is stated in item 3 of the I-20/DS-2019. If the F-1/J-1 is eligible and applies for an extension of stay, the dependent's period of stay will automatically be extended.
    • F-1/J-1 Students can request an extension by completing the “Student I-20 or DS-2019 Extension Request” located in the Student Services section of iPenn.