Bringing Dependents on a J-2 Visa

Your family can accompany you while you pursue a program of study, research, or teaching in the United States. Your spouse and dependent children (unmarried children under 21) may enter the United States with a J-2 visa. If your family members wish to visit the United States as tourists, they will need to apply for a B-2 visitor visa. It is customary for a student to write a letter of invitation for his/her family members. The application procedure for a J-2 dependent family visa is the same as the J-1 visa. The sponsor of your J-1 exchange program must approve the accompaniment of the spouse and/or children, who will each be issued their own Form DS-2019.

If you hold a J-1 nonimmigrant visa and your program sponsor is not WSU, please contact your program sponsor directly to inquire about bringing dependents.

If WSU is your sponsor, follow the steps below.

The process

1. Submit documents

Submit the following documents to WSU International Programs through myPassport.

  • Copy of passport for each dependent
  • Financial documentation (e.g., bank statement, letter from employer or sponsor, etc.)

Whether you decide to bring your family members with you at the time of your initial entry or later, you are required to show evidence of adequate financial support for each dependent. The additional amount of financial support you must show for each J-2 dependent varies by WSU location and is listed below in U.S. dollars.

LocationJ-2 SpouseJ-2 ChildAdditional J-2 Child
Tri-Cities and Prosser$1,200$1,300$600
Mt. Vernon$1,200$1,400$700

2. WSU actions

WSU will add your dependent(s) to your SEVIS record. Then we will issue a new DS-2019 to you and each of your accompanying dependents.

3. Documents for dependents

Provide your dependents with the following documents for visa application.

  • Your dependents’ J-2 Form DS-2019 (original)
  • Your new DS-2019 (copy)
  • Your passport biographical page (copy)
  • Your J-1 visa stamp (copy)
  • Your I-94 card (copy of front and back sides)
  • Financial documentation (e.g., bank statement, proof of graduate assistantship, letter from employer or sponsor)
  • Your letter of invitation

4. Dependent responsibilities

Your dependents should contact their local U.S. Embassy/Consular Office and follow the procedures for the J-2 visa application.

Check in with ISSS upon arrival

When your dependents arrive at your WSU location, have them check in with International Student and Scholar Services and provide a copy of each dependent’s immigration documents and proof of insurance. Check-in documents are submitted through myPassport.

Rights and restrictions while in the United States

J-2 visa holders should enter the United States with the J-1 visa holder and must leave the United States when the principal J-1 visa expires.

In most cases, a J-2 visa holder can seek employment. To work, a J-2 visa holder must obtain an Employment Authorization Document from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Money earned by a J-2 visa holder cannot be used to support the principal J-1 visa holder.

While they are in the United States, your dependents will need to abide by certain rules regarding employment and academic study.

Taking classes

Your J-2 dependents are allowed to pursue part-time or full-time studies.


J-2 dependents may work part-time or full-time in the United States only with a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. However, a J-2 dependent’s employment cannot be used to support the J-1 student.

Lawful J-2 dependents may apply for an EAD by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with UCSIS. An EAD can be issued for up to 1 year at a time or for the validity of DS-2019, whichever is shorter. It is possible to apply to extend an EAD.

Social Security

J-2 dependents with a valid EAD may apply for a Social Security number.

Volunteer work

J-2 dependents may volunteer if their volunteer activities do not displace a paid position.

International travel

As long as J-1 students maintain lawful status, their dependents are allowed to travel in and out of country by themselves with proper documentation. J-2 dependents do need a valid travel signature from an A/RO in International Student and Scholar Services.

Two-year home country physical presence requirement

A J-2 dependent is subject to the same foreign residence requirement as the J-1 visa holder.

If you are granted a waiver of the foreign residence requirement, it will also apply to your J-2 dependents.

Family visits

If you have family members who would like to visit the U.S. for a short visit they should contact their local U.S. Embassy or Consular Officer to apply for a B-2 visa.

Leaving the country

Your J-2 dependents should accompany you outside the U.S. if you will be abroad for more than 1 month.

Health insurance requirement

As a student visa holder, you and your dependents are required by law to be covered by medical insurance that meets specified benefit levels. You must have coverage for the duration of your program.

WSU will automatically enroll you in its international student health insurance program (iSHIP), but you will need to purchase separate coverage for anyone else who comes with you.

Minimum coverage requirements

Below are insurance requirements for international students and families as of Jan. 1, 2015. Each accompanying dependent must be covered by insurance in the same amounts.

  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
  • Medical evacuation $50,000
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness

Policy requirements

To ensure reliability, the policy you choose should meet 1 of the following requirements:

  • Underwritten by an insurance corporation having 1 of the following ratings:
    • M. Best rating of “A-“ or above
    • Insurance Solvency International, Ltd. (ISI) rating of “A-I” or above
    • Standard & Poor’s Claims-paying Ability rating of “A-“ or above
    • Weiss Research, Inc. rating of B+ or above
    • Other rating as the Department of State may from time to time specify
  • Backed by the full faith and credit of the government of your home country
  • Part of a health benefits program offered on a group basis to employees or enrolled students by a designated sponsor
  • Offered through or underwritten by a federally qualified Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or eligible Competitive Medical Plan (CMP) as determined by the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Acceptable provisions

Waiting period for pre-existing conditions: If required, it should be reasonable relative to current industry standards.

Co-insurance:  You may be required to pay up to 25% of the covered benefits per accident or illness.

Unacceptable provisions

The policy shall not unreasonably exclude coverage for perils inherent to the activities of the exchange program in which you participate.

Finding the policy that is right for you

Evaluate different insurance products to find 1 that best suits your circumstances. Consider factors such as:

  • If you are married or single
  • Whether you participate in sports activities that might raise your risk of injury
  • If you need maternity coverage

The following companies offer insurance products that meet or exceed the Department of State J exchange program minimum requirements for medical insurance. This is a partial list of companies and products and is provided only as a starting point. It is not an endorsement of any company or product.

Take the medical insurance requirement seriously

Willfully failing to maintain required insurance coverage is a violation of the law. Your participation in the exchange visitor program could be terminated as a consequence.


If you have questions about the insurance requirement, contact an advisor in International Student and Scholar Services.