Can F2 Visa Holders Study in the United States?

If you’re a dependent of an F1 visa holder, you might be wondering whether you’re allowed to study in the US. F2 visa holders are eligible to stay in the United States as long as the primary F1 visa holder is enrolled in a full-time academic program. But what about studying for F2 visa holders? Let’s take a closer look at the rules and regulations around F2 visa holders and studying in the US.

Key Takeaways

  • F2 visa holders are not allowed to engage in full-time academic studies in the United States.
  • Part-time study in the US is allowed under an F2 visa, but the student cannot pursue a degree or a full-time course of study.
  • F2 visa holders are allowed to take classes for personal enrichment, such as language classes, cooking classes or dance classes.
  • If F2 visa holders want to engage in full-time academic studies, they must apply for a change of status to an F1 or any other visa type that fits their situation.

Restrictions on Studying

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), F2 visa holders are not allowed to enroll in a full-time academic program in the United States. That means that you are not allowed to attend college, university or another academic program full-time while you’re under an F2 visa.

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There’s a good reason for this. The F2 visa is designed for dependents of F1 visa holders to accompany the primary visa holder to the US. Its main purpose is to allow the dependent to stay in the US with the F1 visa holder, while they’re studying at a US academic institution.

F2 visa holders can, however, take part-time courses while in the US. The courses can be related to hobbies or personal interests, but the student cannot pursue a degree or full-time course of study. Part-time study refers to courses that require less than a full-time commitment per week, which typically means fewer than 12 credits per semester.

Applying for a Change of Status

If you’re an F2 visa holder and want to study full-time in the US, you’ll need to apply for a change of status. This means changing your F2 visa to an F1 visa, which is the primary student visa.

To apply for a change of status, you will need to file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-immigrant Status, with the USCIS. Additionally, you must meet all the eligibility criteria for an F1 visa, including:

  • Being accepted for enrollment in a full-time academic program at a US school that is authorized to accept international students;
  • Having sufficient financial resources to cover the cost of the program, tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation;
  • Being proficient in the English language or enrolled in an English language program.

It’s important to note that the process of changing your visa status can take significant time, and you must have a valid visa status while your application is pending. If your visa expires while your application is being processed, you may need to leave the US and reapply from your home country.

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Taking Classes for Personal Enrichment

Although F2 visa holders cannot take up full-time academic studies, they are allowed to take classes for personal enrichment. This can include courses that are not for credit and don’t require a significant time commitment.

Examples of personal enrichment classes include language classes, dance classes, art classes or cooking classes. You can browse the catalogs of local community colleges and universities to find classes that interest you.

Since these classes do not lead to a degree or certification, they are considered part of personal or recreational activities, and there are no restrictions on the type of courses you can take or the number of courses you can attend.


Can F2 visa holders work in the US?

F2 visa holders are not eligible for employment in the United States. They are allowed to volunteer or take unpaid internships, but they can’t earn a salary or get any kind of payment.

Can F2 visa holders get a driver’s license in the US?

Yes, F2 visa holders are typically allowed to apply for and obtain a driver’s license in the state where they reside. However, they must have a valid Social Security Number or a letter from the SSA stating that they are not eligible for a Social Security Number.

About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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