USA Dependent Visa

DEPENDENT VISAS for The United States of America:

The Dependent Visa category enables the dependents of a person who is a permanent resident or a citizen, or a temporary worker or a temporary student, of the country for which an applicant is applying to obtain their visa to join or accompany them. This type of application typically applies to family and children.

The person who is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen or International Student or a Foreign Worker, and upon whom the application is based is referred to as the ‘sponsor’.

Types of Dependent Visas

  • H – 4    Visa for the Dependent of a skilled worker
  • L – 2     Visa for the Dependent of a Businessman who is on L1 or L1A
  • J ­ 2     Visa for the Dependent of an exchange visitor
  • F – 2     Visa for the Dependent of an International student

An H ‑ 4 visa is a non-immigrant visa for the spouses and/or minor children of all H visa holders which include H‑1B high‐​skilled workers as well as H‑2A and H‑2B for agricultural and non-agricultural seasonal workers.

You can only obtain H ‑ 4 visa to enter the United States once H‑1B worker’s visa of your sponsor is approved. H‑1B workers must be sponsored by a U.S. employer in a “specialty” occupation, mainly jobs that usually require a college degree or greater. Employers must receive a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor in which they agree to pay the prevailing wage for U.S. workers and pay fees, including funds for U.S. training and education.

Spouse and unmarried minor children (under the age of 21 years) are eligible to accompany the L­1 visa holder on L­2 visa. As L­2 visa is a dependent visa, the duration of valid stay is the same as that of the L­1 visa holder. That is, up to 7 years in case of dependents of L1A visa and up to 5 years in case of dependents of L1B visa. L­2 visa holders are allowed to travel in and out of the U.S. provided their L2 visa status and L2 visa stamp remain valid.


L­2 visa holders are permitted to attend school either part-time or full­time.

Change of Status

L­2 visa holders are allowed to change their non-immigrant status to others such as B­1, B­2, H­1, H­4 (provided the primary visa holder will be on H1 visa) or even L­1.

In case you decide to change your status to H­1 visa or L visa later, the time you have already spent in the U.S. on L­2 visa will not be counted towards the maximum duration allowed on H­1B visa or L visa.

If the primary visa holder changes the status from H­1 visa to L­1 visa, the dependents are allowed to change the status from H­4 visa to L­2 visa.

L ­ 2 Visa Extension

If the immediate family members of the L­1 visa holder are already in the U.S., they can seek change of status to or extension of stay in L­2 status by filing Form I­539.

Green Card

When the L­1 visa holder applies for the green card, L­2 visa holders can also be included in that process and can apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. or immigrant visa outside the U.S.

As long as you are on a valid L­2 visa status, after applying for Adjustment of Status, you don’t need to apply for Advance Parole in order to enter back into the U.S.

Visa Stamping

It is recommended that the spouse and dependent children go for their visa interview at the same time as the principal applicant.

Ineligible Dependents

Some people who come to the U.S. on L­1 visa would like to bring their parents along with them, possibly on L­2 visa. Reasons given are sometimes like I am the only son, and there is no one to take care of my elderly parents and it is my duty to do so. Or my father has passed away and my widow mother would be left all alone in India. My parents are completely dependent upon me etc.

However, in the U.S., parents are not considered your dependents.  Not at least for L­2 or any other dependent visa purposes.  Therefore, your parents may visit you for a short time occasionally on a visitor’s visa. However, they cannot stay for all the time you will be in the U.S. on L­1 visa. If they make frequent visits and have excessive stays, that is not consistent with the purpose of visitor’s visa, and they would face trouble entering the U.S. in the future. You will need to decide whether you would like to leave them in your home country and work in the U.S. or continue to do the job in your home country so that you can stay with your parents. However, there is no provision in the U.S. law to make exceptions for you, no matter what your situation is.

Spouse and/or minor children (under the age of 21 years) of J­1 exchange visitors who accompany or later join the J­1 holder in the U.S. can apply for J­2 visa. J2 visa, a dependent visa and its immigration status ends at the same time as the associated J­1 visitor’s status.

Duration of the stay under J­2 visa is the same as the duration of J­1 visa. Extended family members such as parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and beyond are not eligible for J­2 visa.

Domestic Partners

Eligibility for married partner of the J­1 participant, whether of the same or opposite sex, whose primary purpose in coming  to the U.S. is to accompany  his/her  partner  can be issued a B­2 visa as long as such partner  does not intend  to work, and is otherwise  eligible for a visa. Even though visiting on B­2 visa is usually for a short period of time, in this case, it is permissible for the accompanying partner to intend to accompany the principal visa holder for the duration of an exchange program in the U.S.

The F-2 dependent visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows dependent spouses and children (unmarried, under 21 years old) of F-1 student visa holders to enter into the U.S.


On F2 visa, you may:

  • Enter the U.S. along with your spouse or join him or her at a later date within the validity of your visa.
  • Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously as long as you maintain valid F-2 status
  • You may stay in the U.S. as long as the principal F-1 visa holder maintains valid status. You lose your status once the principal applicant loses F-1 status.
  • There are no travel restrictions on F-2 visa. You may travel as many times as possible, provided you maintain valid F status.
  • You may apply for change of status while on F-2 visa. However, you cannot take up the new activity/endeavour until the change of status is approved.


On F2 Visa, you:

  • You may not take up paid employment while in the U.S. on F-2 visa.
  • As an F-2 spouse you may not engage in full time study and F-2 child may only engage in full time elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade) study. F-2 spouse, or child may engage in a study that is avocational or recreational in nature.
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