F-2 or J-2 Dependent Status for Spouse and Children
You can bring dependents with you while you study in the US. Dependents may be a spouse of unmarried child under the age of 21 years. Parents, siblings or extended family members do not qualify as dependents. Depending on your visa status, the dependent would apply for either an F-1 or a J-2 visa. To request a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 for your spouse or child, please complete the request form and submit it to the Office of International Affairs along with a copy of your dependent's passport (biographical page). You are required to show you can sufficiently support your dependent(s).
To request a Form I-20 (F visa) for your dependent spouse or child, complete the Request for F-2 Dependent form.
To request a Form DS-2019 (J visa) for your dependent spouse or child, complete the Request for J-2 Dependent form.
The Department of State requires J-2 dependents have insurance upon arrival to the US. Visit this link for further information on this insurance requirement and minimum policy coverage: https://iss.ucmerced.edu/professors-researchers/j-1/health-insurance. F-2 dependents are strongly recommended to purchase health insurance either with UC SHIP or a private company.
All children in California between the ages of 6 and 18 are required to attend school. Children will be required to have certain medical exams and vaccinations before entering school. To help your children have a smooth transition to their new school, read as much as you can about how the US school system works and what you can expect. Here are some helpful websites:
The US Department of Education https://www.ed.gov/
Great Schools https://www.greatschools.org/
Merced City School District https://www.mcsd.k12.ca.us/
An F-2 spouse or dependent child may not engage in full-time post-secondary study (study after US high school), but may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the US as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study, and it must be recreational in nature. To engage in full-time study, an F-2 spouse or child must apply for and be granted F-1 or J-1 student visa status.
Dependents in J-2 status are permitted to apply for work authorization with USCIS. The employment must be for cultural enrichment and not based on financial need.
Dependentsin F-2 status are NOT permitted to work while in the US.