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F-1 and J-1 Students Bringing Dependents to the U.S.

Students in F-1 or J-1 status may request documentation from Old Dominion University which will allow the spouse and/or dependent children to join them in F-2 or J-2 status. There are a variety of Immigration laws and University policies which guide the issuance of this form. In addition to the Dependent Document Request Form, you must submit the Dependent Responsibilities Form and financial documentation (see Financial Support below for more details about this requirement).

Processing Time

Please allow for the posted processing time for dependent requests to be completed. No processing can be done if you have holds. If you are a new student, your visa document cannot be requested until one month after the beginning of the semester. Requests for dependent documents from VISA cannot be made more than four months before their anticipated entry into the U.S.

Financial Support

You must show that you have sufficient financial support to cover the expenses of the dependents for the entire period you will be in the United States. Please refer to the chart below to determine how much funding we will need to see in order to continue processing your I-20 request.


Living Expenses

Total Funding Needed for Undergraduates

Total Funding Needed for Graduate without Assistantship

Total Funding Needed for Graduate with Assistantship & In-State Tuition

Total Funding Needed for Graduate with Assistantship & Tuition Waiver

J2 Insurance (12 mo.)






Spouse & 1 child






Spouse & 2 children






Spouse & 3 children






Spouse & 4 children






1 child & no spouse






2 children & no spouse






3 children & no spouse






4 children & no spouse







Health Insurance

As you are likely already aware, the cost of health care in the U.S. is extremely high. Old Dominion University expects that its international students will ensure their dependents have insurance that cover major medical expenses for accident or illness. The plan endorsed by the university for its international student has a plan for dependents. If you wish to purchase coverage, please see the VISA staff member coordinating assistance regarding health insurance for F and J visa holders at ODU.

Services from VISA

Please note that VISA is happy to help your dependents with finding resources, volunteer opportunities, etc. Because most other offices are funded by student fees (e.g. Rec & Wellness, Student Health Services, etc.), the staff members there must, understandably, focus on assisting students. Also, most of our staff has lived overseas and/or has worked with international spouses for many years, so your dependents can feel free to speak with us if needed. We welcome dependents and want them to have a positive experience in the U.S.!

ODU Community ESL Class

Every semester, in conjunction with the Applied Linguistics program, VISA coordinates an English class for the spouses of our students and scholars. Announcements will be done at the beginning of each semester about the time and location of the classes.


F-2: An individual on an F-2 visa holders may not work under any circumstances, but it may be possible to volunteer with a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization like Red Cross, public libraries, animal shelters, etc.

J-2: Dependents of J-1s may apply for work permission from Immigration; VISA can assist with the first application. Any income from this employment may not be used as a source of support for the J-1.

Attending School

F-2: A new rule allows F-2 dependents to engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study. An F-2 dependent who wants to enroll full-time in a course of academic or vocational study must apply for and obtain approval to change nonimmigrant classification to F-1 before beginning full-time study. VISA is happy to assist an F-2 change to F-1 status after admission to ODU; your dependent should make an appointment with his/her VISA advisor.

J-2: An individual in J-2 status s may be degree-seeking students. For dependents who would like to improve their English, VISA and the Applied Linguistics program offer a free class for spouses (and adult family members). VISA will announce information on class times and locations in VISA News and on the listservs. Some local churches also have free English classes; again, these will be announced.

Current Records

Within one week of their arrival, your dependents must bring their passports, I-94 cards and the visa document they used to enter the country to the VISA office. We need to make photocopies of these items in order to maintain current records of their status. In addition, any time any of these documents is updated (e.g. passport extended, new visa obtained), you need to bring them by for copying.

Travel & Re-Entry for Dependents

Just as for F-1 and J-1 visa holders, dependents must have a travel signature on their I-20/DS-2019 from VISA that should not be more than six months old upon re-entry. Please be sure to allow time for the processing of a signature request. When dependents travel, they should have the following documents with them in case the border official asks to see them upon re-entry.

  1. All I-20/DS-2019s ever issued to them, as well as the most current, signed document

  2. Passport valid for at least six months into the future upon re-entry

  3. Proof of F-1/J-1 registration (LeoOnline transcript print-out should be fine)

  4. Proof of financial support (no more than six months old)

Permanent Departure of Dependents from U.S.

When one or more of your dependents leaves the U.S. permanently, VISA is required by law to cancel their visa document in SEVIS. Please e-mail us with your dependent's departure date and we will make the proper updates for Immigration.

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