Immigration Information For Spouses, Families and Domestic Partners

For non-immigration related information, please visit the Spouses, Partners & Families website.


Who can work in the U.S.?

Spouses of J-1 Exchange Visitors who hold valid J-2 status are eligible to apply for employment authorization that will allow them to work for the purposes of cultural enrichment and recreation (i.e. the income earned is not used for purposes of supporting the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor). 

The J-2 employment authorization is only valid while the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor is maintaining valid J-1 status.

Go here for instructions on how to apply for J-2 employment authorization >>

Spouses of F-1 students (F-2 visa holders) and H-1B employees (H-4 visa holders) unfortunately are NOT eligible for employment authorization.


Changes of Status

Changing status within the U.S. is a lengthy process 4-6 months to complete. The faster and more efficient way to change status is to leave the U.S. to apply at the U.S. Consulate in your home country for an entry visa in another non-immigrant status and re-enter in that status.

A common change of status scenario that the I-Center helps with is when F-1/J-1 students wish to change their status to be a dependent of their spouse who is in current F-1/J-1 status at Stanford.

Other changes of status need to be discussed with I-Center staff or a Stanford Department, if it involves being affiliated with Stanford University.

Please note that the I-Center cannot provide advice to spouses who wish to pursue a degree with or work for an institution other than Stanford. In those situations, the institution with which you will be, or wish to be, affiliated should be contacted.

Go here for instructions on how to change visa status to F-2/J-2 >>

 

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What you need to know about travel

All persons seeking to enter the U.S., with the exception of Canadian citizens, are required to obtain an entry visa at one of the U.S. Consulates worldwide before being able to enter the U.S.  Spouses of students/scholars will have to also show their form I-20/DS-2019 at the port of entry and receive an I-94 card marked "F-2 D/S" or "J-2 D/S."

If you have additional questions related to traveling outside the U.S., please see the section on "Frequently asked Questions" as your question may be answered there.

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Information for Partners

Unfortunately, since immigration regulations prohibit the issuance of J-2 or F-2 visas to partners, the following are other options for partners to come to the U.S.:

  • Come as a visitor:*

    *These visitor’s type visas are temporary in nature and do not permit work of any kind. In addition, please note that the International Center is not involved in the issuance of documentation to obtain these visas. You would need to contact the U.S. Consulate in your country.

  • Obtain their own study or work visa.**

    **Please note that the I-Center cannot provide advice to partners who wish to pursue a degree with or work for an institution other than Stanford. In those situations, the institution with which you will be, or wish to be, affiliated should be contacted.

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Frequently Asked Questions for J-2 and F-2 dependents

Q: I am a J-2 or F-2 dependent. How do I extend my status?

Q: I am a J-2 or F-2 dependent and I wish to travel outside the U.S. without my spouse. What do I need in order to re-enter the U.S.?

Q: My I-94 card says "D/S." What does this mean?

Q: I have a DS-2019/I-20 for travel (dependent document). Do I need to get a signature (endorsement) on the back of it before I travel?

Q: I have a DS-2019/I-20 for travel (dependent document). Do I still need an entry visa to enter the U.S. after I travel?

Q: How do I get a Social Security Number?

Q: My girlfriend/boyfriend wants to come to Stanford. What are her/his options in terms of immigration status?

Q: As a dependent of a J-1 Exchange Visitor or an F-1 student, am I required to obtain health insurance?

Q: I am a J-2 dependent who has applied for employment authorization. I would like to know what resources there are for looking for a job.

Q: I need to renew my employment authorization, how do I go about it?

Q: When should I renew my employment authorization?

Q: My husband/wife is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement. Does that mean I am too?

Q: My husband/wife is changing from J-1 to H-1 classification. I have a valid EAD as a J-2 spouse; will I be able to continue working after my husband/wife has changed status?

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Q: I am a J-2 or F-2 dependent. How do I extend my status?

A: Your status is extended automatically when your spouse gets an extension of his/her DS-2019/I-20.

For those with J-2 Employment Authorization, be advised that this authorization must be extended/renewed by submitting another I-765 application directly to the USCIS.  The extension of the DS-2019 is not enough to engage in valid employment.  See the section on "How to apply for J-2 Employment Authorization."

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Q: I am a J-2 or F-2 dependent and I wish to travel outside the U.S. without my spouse. What do I need in order to re-enter the U.S.?

A: Dependents who wish to travel outside the U.S. for a temporary visit and re-enter the country follows the same procedures as a J-1/F-1 principal participant. Proper documentation to re-enter the U.S. includes:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid visa
  • Current DS-2019/I-20 issued for the purpose of permitting the dependent to enter the U.S. separately

If your entry visa has expired, you will have to obtain a new one at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. Canadians do not need visa stamps but do need to show a passport to enter the U.S. from Canada.

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Q: My I-94 card says "D/S." What does this mean?

A: This stands for Duration of Status, which means that you are allowed to stay in the country as long as your spouse has a valid DS-2019/I-20 and is still pursuing the program objectives of his/her visa status.

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Q: I have a DS-2019/I-20 for travel (dependent document). Do I need to get a signature (endorsement) on the back of it before I travel?

A: Yes, DS-2019’s/I-20’s must be endorsed for travel every 12 months (may be less depending on the J-1/F-1 visa holder’s situation). For all F -1’s and J-1’s whose program sponsor is Stanford, the authorized signer will be an advisor at the International Center.  If you do not know who is your program sponsor is, please contact the I-Center.

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Q: I have a DS-2019/I-20 for travel (dependent document). Do I still need an entry visa to enter the U.S. after I travel?

A: Yes, you need a valid entry visa to enter the U.S., unless you have traveled to a contiguous territory (Canada or Mexico) or adjacent islands (excluding Cuba) for less than thirty days and you are not a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, or Syria. If this is the case, you may re-enter the U.S. without renewing your entry visa.  In these cases, you must keep your I-94 card when you leave the U.S.  Do not turn it in.

Canadians do not need visa stamps, but must show a passport to enter the U.S. from Canada. Spouses of scholars or students do need to show a valid DS-2019/I-20 at the port of entry to re-enter the U.S. in valid J-2 or F-2 status.

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Q: How do I get a Social Security Number?

A: J-2 dependents are eligible to hold a Social Security Number (SSN) only after they have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS. For more information go here to the I-Center SSN site.

F-2 dependents are not eligible to hold a Social Security Number, but can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for tax purposes. You can find information on this on the IRS web site.

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Q: My girlfriend/boyfriend wants to come to Stanford. What are her/his options in terms of immigration status?

A: See section on "Information for Partners"

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Q: As a dependent of a J-1 Exchange Visitor or an F-1 student, am I required to obtain health insurance?

A: Yes, dependents need to be covered by health insurance as well as the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor or F-1 student. Health insurance for J-2 dependents must meet the same requirements set out by the U.S. Department of State. Insurance for dependents is expensive, but it is also necessary.

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Q: I am a J-2 dependent who has applied for employment authorization. I would like to know what resources there are for looking for a job.

A: Visit the Spouses, Partners & Families pages: (link from tab on the left)

  • Finding Employment
  • Resource Library for International Families (located on the first floor of the International Center)
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Q: I need to renew my employment authorization, how do I go about it?

A: The process for extending or renewing employment authorization is much the same as the initial request. See the page on "How to apply for J-2 Employment Authorization."

Please note that the process of renewing the EAD takes just as long as the initial card. In order to avoid interruptions in J-2 employment authorization, it is important to file the Form I-765 for extension of employment authorization sufficiently in advance so that the extension application is approved before the expiration of the current grant of authorization.

J-2 employment authorization expires with the expiration of the EAD, and the mere filing of an application for new authorization does not permit employment during the adjudication process. If the current EAD has expired, the J-2 must cease employment until receiving the new EAD.

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Q: When should I renew my employment authorization?

A: You should apply to renew your employment authorization at least 90 days prior to the expiration of your current EAD, but it is highly recommended that you submit your application 90 days ahead of time, the earliest it is allowed. Even in the scenario that your previous EAD was processed in a shorter period of time, NEVER assume that it will be the same in the future, because processing times have a considerable amount of variance.

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Q: My husband/wife is subject to the two-year home country physical presence requirement. Does that mean I am too?

A: J-2 dependent spouse and children are subject to the two-year home rule requirement if the principal J-1 holder is subject to the requirement. In order to waive that requirement, the principal J-1 holder would need to receive a waiver of this requirement. The International Center cannot advise J-1 holders on how to obtain a waiver of this requirement. For more information, please visit our Two-Year Requirement page.     

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Q: My husband/wife is changing from J-1 to H-1 classification. I have a valid EAD as a J-2 spouse; will I be able to continue working after my husband/wife has changed status?

A: No, you will not be able to work after your husband/wife has changed his/her status from J-1 to H-1 even if your EAD is still valid. Since your status is dependent on your husband's/wife's, you will also need to change your status to H-4 and will therefore no longer be eligible for work authorization. 

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