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Travel and Re-entry

F-2 dependents are not required to travel with the primary F-1. However, the F-2 dependent must carry the following documents required for re-entry to the US:

  1. Valid passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of the re-entry to the US)
  2. Valid F-2 visa in passport (except for dependents from Canada)
  3. F-2 I-20 with a valid travel signature from OIS on page 2 or 3
    • Valid for one year if F-1 is currently enrolled student
    • Valid for six months if F-1 is currently on approved post-completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension
  4. Copies of the following F-1 documents:
    • I-20, passport, F-1 visa, I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
    • If F-1 is on approved post-completion OPT or STEM OPT Extension, also include OPT I-20, EAD card, and proof of current employment or offer letter

F-2 dependents are able to remain in the US without the F-1 as long as the F-1 maintains status and will return to the U.S. after a temporary absence using the same SEVIS ID number.

F-2 dependents who need a travel signature on their I-20 should have their F-1 spouse submit the I-20 Request Form. The I-20 will be sent electronically in four business days.

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Employment & Social Security Number

F-2 dependents are not eligible to work in the US. They also are not eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

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Studying in the U.S.

F-2 spouses are eligible to enroll in part-time studies (degree, avocational, or recreational) in the U.S. For more information, please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website.

F-2 minor children are eligible to enroll in full-time studies in elementary or secondary schools. For information about enrolling your child in a public elementary or secondary school, contact the local school district.

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Health Insurance

USC’s requirement for health insurance only applies to students. Dependents of USC students are strongly encouraged to purchase private health insurance while in the US.

More information on health insurance is available on the USC Student Health website. For further assistance, please contact USC Student Health by phone at (213) 740-9355 or email at

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Driver’s License & California State ID

F-2 dependents are eligible to apply for a CA driver’s license and state ID since an SSN is not required for the application. More information is available on our driver’s license page.

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Extension of Stay

The immigration status of an F-2 is dependent upon the F-1 student. In order to request an extension of stay, the F-1 student should review the program extension requirements and follow the guidelines.

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Receiving Public Assistance

Children who are born in the US are considered to be US citizens. However, parents who hold non-immigrant visas in the US need to be aware that acceptance of federal or state government benefits for maternity expenses or any other government assistance will jeopardize their immigration status.

Public assistance includes food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the WIC program, MediCal and Medicaid.

Local welfare offices do provide the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) with the names and current addresses of every non-immigrant who applies for public assistance. Acceptance of such benefits, even for a child who is a US citizen, is a serious violation of your immigration status.

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