Dependent Visa USA - Definitive Guide

America is a land of opportunities. And it is quite a hot-spot for foreign people. Known to have one of the largest ethnic diversity, the USA attracts people for leisure, work, studies, and so on. Sometimes, when they are settled in the country, they would want to bring their spouse and children to live with them. Luckily, the US Government has a provision for this too in the form of a US dependent Visa

What is Dependent Visa for USA?

A Dependent Visa USA allows the spouse or children of certain US visa holders to accompany them to the country. Depending on the type of visa the individual possesses, the partner and the children can apply for a corresponding dependent permit. The validity of these visas varies upon the validity of the primary visa. If the sponsoring individual has a permit for say 2 years,  their dependents will have a visa valid for up to 2 years. Based on the type of primary visa, the dependent visas are of the following major types - 

  1. H4 Dependent Visa - This permit is issued to the spouse/children of individuals working in the USA under the H1-B category. 
  2. F2 Dependent Visa - This is issued for the spouse/children of people studying in the country on an F1 permit.
  3. L2 Dependent Visa - Dependents of people on company transfer in the US under the L1 category are issued with this type of permit.
  4. J2 Dependent Visa - Issued to the spouse/children of individuals on exchange programs under the J1 category.

Note:- Throughout this guide, the term ‘sponsor’ refers to the individual upon whom the dependent depends on. 

How to apply for US Dependent Visa

The F2, L2, J2, and H4 visa application, are all applied in a similar way. Before making the application, ensure that one is eligible for the particular type based on the permit of the guardian. The process can then be continued by following the below procedure - 

  • Collect all the documents required for the application. Each type of Dependent Visa USA has its own set of additional documents.
  • Create an account on the US CEAC ( Consular Electronic Application Center).
  • Fill in the NIV DS-160 form correctly. Please make a note of the barcode number on the form.
  • Proceed to pay the fees online. Keep the receipt number safe.
  • The next step involves making two appointments. The first one is for the biometric submission at a VAC. The second one is for the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.
  • For the first appointment, visit the VAC with the passport, appointment confirmation page, and DS-160 confirmation page. The biometric details of the applicant will be taken here, and the form will be stamped for approval.
  • Visit the embassy or consulate with the passport, stamped DS-160 page, and the appointment confirmation page for the visa interview. The L2, F2, J2, H4 visa interview questions will be based on the purpose, intent, duration, as well as questions to determine the legitimacy of their marriage with the spouse. The applicant will have to prove to the consular officer that they are genuinely married and that they plan on staying in the US only for a temporary visa period.

It is recommended that the dependents apply for the visa at the same time as their sponsor applies. This will make it faster and easier for visa approval. It is necessary that all the forms including the H4 visa application forms are filled accurately, and submit the original documents. Any faults in the application may cause it being delayed, and fake or invalid documents will lead to a visa denial. A rejected visa can make one ineligible for future visa applications. 

Please note that individuals below the age of 14 and over the age of 80 do not have to attend a visa interview or a biometric. Also, if a person has had their dependent visa expire in the past 12 months and are applying for the same category, they are also exempt from the interview. However, in certain cases, you may be required to attend an interview or submit biometrics.

Eligibility for US Dependent Visa

The individuals who can apply for US Dependent Visa have to fulfil the following criteria - 

  • They should be a legally married spouse of a valid H, F1, L1, J1 visa holder, or
  • They must be an unmarried child under the age of 21, of the same visa holder.
  • One must possess a valid passport for at least 6 months from the date of travel.
  • In certain categories such as F2, they must also be able to show sufficient financial funds.

Documents required for US Dependent Visa

The documents required for the application varies from type to type. Apart from the general documents, each type has additional requirements. The common documents are as follows - 

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel
  • 2 Valid photographs
  • Photocopies of your passport pages
  • The DS-160 confirmation page
  • Interview confirmation letter
  • Fees payment receipts
  • Original marriage certificate, if you are the spouse, along with - 
  • Genuine marriage proof such as:
  • Wedding album
  • Wedding guest list
  • Receipts from the wedding
  • Receipts of any honeymoon trips
  • If married at a registrar office, wedding affidavit, and pictures of you and your spouse with the wedding witnesses.
  • Original birth certificate, if you are a child of the sponsor

Apart from these, the specific documents required for each category are as below - 

  • H4 Dependent Visa documents -
    1. Photocopy of the sponsor’s H1-B type visa
    2. Photocopy of sponsor’s I-129, I-797, and Labor Certification Application (LCA) forms
    3. Copy of the sponsor’s letter of employment
    4. If they are already working in the US, pay stubs and tax filing information
    5. Copy of the sponsor’s passport
  • F2 Dependent Visa - 
    1. Your original I-20 form,
    2. Copy of the F1 Visa holder’s I-20 form
    3. Copy of F1 Visa
    4. If applying separately, copy of sponsor’s passport
    5. Proof of funds - Bank statements, tax records, passbook, payslips, etc
  • L2 Dependent Visa - 
    1. Photocopies of L1 Visa holder’s I-129, I-797 forms
    2. Copy of the sponsor's passport, and visa
    3. Letter from the employer of the sponsor, explaining the job description
    4. Letter from the previous employer of the L1 holder
    5. If applying separately, L1 holder’s payslips in the US.
  • J2 Dependent Visa - 
    1. Completed DS-2019 form
    2. Copy of the sponsor’s DS-2019 form
    3. If the J1 holder is an intern or trainee, a copy of their DS-7002 form
    4. Proof of funds to cover expenses
    5. Health insurance, if required

Photo specifications

  • Dimensions:  50mm X 50mm
  • Colour: Coloured
  • Recently taken in the past 3 months
  • Background: plain white with a matte finish
  • Must have 70% face coverage
  • Facial expression: neutral
  • Eyes directed towards the camera and wide open 
  • Glasses: allowed for medical reasons only
  • Uniforms are not permitted
  • Headgears: allowed only for religious reasons
  • Facial hair is permitted.

Dependent visa for USA processing time

The general time of processing visa is in the range of 15-30 working days. Depending on several factors such as the workload at the embassy or consulate, express delivery, the type of Dependent visa USA, and so on, it can get much longer. It also depends on when the sponsor applies for their visa. If both of you apply for it together, your visas will be processed at the same time. The task of scheduling an interview can take much more and have high waiting time. As a result, it is highly advisable to apply well in advance. 

US Dependent Visa fees

The fees for the visa depends on several factors such as the category, as well as other charges like the biometric charges, reciprocity fees, visa issuance fees, etc if applicable.

After submission

Once the application has been submitted, your visa will be issued for validity as per the consular officer depending upon the interview, and the validity of your sponsor’s visa. The duration, however, can vary depending upon the decision of the Customs Border Patrol officers at the port of entry. 

You can track your US Dependent Visa status by visiting the US embassy website and checking it online. Alternately, you can email to passportstatus@ustraveldocs.com with your passport number.

When you have the Dependent Visa USA

When you receive the visa, you are required to keep the following points in mind - 

  • Carry all the travel documents, along with the visa.
  • Ensure that you do not overextend the stay beyond the visa duration and validity.
  • If you are on an H4 dependent visa, you cannot work unless you are issued with an EAD ( Employment Authorization Document). This is applicable only if your spouse is on H1-B visa. If your spouse possesses other types of permit, you will not be allowed to work. You can, however, apply for a driving license, enrol in short term courses, and open a bank account.
  • If you are on an L2 Dependent Visa, you are eligible to work after you obtain your EAD, apply for driving license, open a bank account, get a social security number, as well as enrol in higher education courses. 
  • If you are on an F2 Dependent Visa, you are not permitted to work or take part in any credit or degree-bearing courses. You are allowed to take part in voluntary and unpaid work if required. You can also take part in recreational, hobby, and other non-degree-bearing courses. For children, they are allowed to be enrolled in school up until middle school. They are not allowed to do higher education while on an F2.
  • If you are on a J2 Dependent Visa, you are allowed to work once you get your EAD. you are also permitted to get a driving license and open a bank account. You can also apply for a social security number after you obtain the EAD.
  • Keep in mind that your Dependent Visa USA validity is up till the visa of your sponsor expires. 
  • Follow US laws and customs while you are in the country. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Extend My US Dependent Visa?

The possibility of an extension depends on the permit type, validity, and duration of the sponsor’s visa. If the sponsor has an extension or has a long duration permit, you may be able to extend the US permit. In order to do so, you must make an application to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) before your current visa expires. However, the success of your application will depend upon a variety of factors such as the intention, immigration status, and so on. Also, you will have to submit all the documents that you have submitted for the original visa. 

After Expiring My US Dependent Visa How Long Can I Stay?

After expiring your dependent permit, you cannot stay back any longer in the country. You must leave the country before the expiry. Staying back in the country after this permitted period is considered as an offence and can get you deported and in cases where there is a long period of stay after the expiry, you may even be banned from applying for a visa again. However, you may stay back in the country in the case where you have applied for an extension.

What is the Medical Test for US Dependent Visa?

The medical test requirements for the dependent permit depends on the duration of the stay. Since the duration again depends on the sponsor’s visa. Since the non-immigrant permits are for short duration stays, there are usually no medical test requirements necessary. However, it is advised that you get a medical checkup done before travelling to the US for your own safety.

Can I enrol for academic courses while I am on a dependent visa?

This depends on the exact type of dependent permit. The H4 and L2 dependent category permit you to take up studies in the US. However, once you are accepted by an institution, your category can be converted to an F1. The F2 dependent permit does not allow you to work in degree or credit-bearing courses. If your child is the F2 holder, they may only study elementary school and middle school. 

Can a parent travel as a dependent on a Dependent visa?

No, you cannot travel to the US if you are a parent of the US permit holder. Parents do not come under the category of a dependent. Dependents include only children or spouses of the US visa holder. If you do wish to bring in your parents into the country, you can apply for a B1/B2 visa for them. 

Do I need educational documents for a Dependent visa?

No, it is not necessary to provide educational documents or English proficiency test for the dependent visa. Since you are going to the country as a dependent of the primary visa holder, you do not need them. However, if you plan on studying or working in the US on these, you may need them as necessary. 

Is it necessary for the US-dependent visa to be applied along with the primary visa?

No, it is not mandatory to apply for the dependent permit at the same time as the primary visa holder. You may apply for it at a later period of time separately. However, submitting them together will make the processing faster. Also, note that despite applying separately, your validity and stay duration will depend on the primary visa category. 

What are the questions asked in a dependent visa interview?

The questions normally asked for the dependent visa interview revolve around your relationship with the primary visa holder, your intent of the visit, your period of stay, your finances, and so on. You will be asked to prove that your relationship is legitimate. You will also be asked about your plans during the visit, and if you intend on staying back in the US after the expiry. 

Can I convert My US Dependent Visa into Work permit?

You may convert a dependent visa into a work permit. However, for this purpose, your employer will have to find an application at the USCIS. Along with this, there are other complications while trying to convert the status. However, you may also be able to work while you are on a dependent permit. This again depends on the category. For example, you may not be allowed to work on an H4 or F2. You can work on an L2.

 

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