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Types of Dependent Visas to the United States

Updated on January 1, 2014

Even with the US Immigration Bill in a fix, scores of people are still migrating to US. After all, the country is the dream land for anyone who wants a world-class education or wants to build a successful career. There are many types of Study, Work, Business, Visit and Dependent Visas to US to suit the needs of everyone.

Now, what about the dependents of the people who do migrate to the US on any of the aforementioned visas? Are there enough options for them? What are dependents allowed to do and not do in the States? These are the questions we are going to tackle today.


Who are Dependents?

First of all, let us see who exactly are considered as dependents by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

The family members of the person who is already living in the United States on a valid visa are considered as dependents. This family may include spouse of the Visa holder and any unmarried children under the age of 21.

However, there are some conditions on the dependents’ access to many of the country’s benefits and these conditions change from Visa to Visa. So, let us take a look at the different types of Dependent Visas:

H-4 Visa
F-2 Visa
L-2 Visa
K-1 Visa
No. of Visas granted in 2012
Primary Visa
H1-B Visa
F-1 Visa
L-1 Visa
US Citizen
Till the primary applicant's H1-B Visa is valid
Till the primary applicant's F-1 Visa is valid
Till the primary applicant's L-1 Visa is valid
90 days
Allowed to Study in US
Yes (Part-time)
Yes (Full-time)
Not Applicable
Allowed to Work in US
Yes (Only after EAD approval from USCIS)
Not Applicable

H-4 Dependent Visa

This is the most popular Dependent Visa that people avail as this is available for dependents of H1-B Visa holders.

People who obtain their H-4 Dependent Visa are strictly not allowed to study or work in US on their dependent Visa. However, they can convert their visa to a non-immigrant F-1 Visa, and upon receiving it, they can study in US.

Also, they do not have access to a Social Security Number, and it is only valid as long as the primary applicant’s H1-B Visa is valid.


F-2 Dependent Visa

This is for the dependents of a person who is studying in US under an F-1 Visa. Any dependents who wish to visit or join the F-1 Visa holder can apply for an F-2 Dependent Visa.

F-2 Visa holders can enter the US along with their spouse or join him/her later. Also, they can travel in and out of the US or stay in the US continuously as long as they maintain valid F-2 status.

F-2 Visa holders can stay in the US as long as the principal F-1 Visa holder maintains valid status. Taking up part-time or full-time working on the F-2 Visa is not allowed. To be able to work, the dependent needs to obtain a work visa.

F-2 spouses can study part time and F-2 child can only participate in full-time elementary or secondary school (i.e., from kindergarten to twelfth grade) study. F-2 child or spouse can take part in a vocational or recreational study.

USA Fiancé Visa/K-1 Visa

This is a non-immigrant visa that allows the holder to visit or settle with their Fiancé in USA by getting married. This visa can be granted only to the Fiancé of a US Citizen.

The validity period for a K-1 Visa is 90 days, and within the validity period, the foreign Fiancé citizen should be married after which, the foreign-citizen can apply for change of status to a LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) with the USCIS.

L-2 Dependent Visa

This is designed for the dependent family members of L-1 Visa. An L-2 Visa holder can stay in the US for the entire duration the L-1 visa holder is allowed to stay. This visa allows the holder to travel in and out of the US whenever they want.

L-2 Visa holders can take admission for full-time study course in any university in the United States. However, to work in US with an L-2 Visa, EAD approval from the USCIS is necessary.

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Two points to be noted regarding these Visas:

  1. All these Visas are only valid as long as the Primary Visa holder’s (on whom you are depending on) Visa is valid.
  2. The H-4, F-2 and L-2 Dependent Visas are Non-Immigrant Visas and the Visa holders need to leave America after the expiry of the Visa.

If you or a friend of yours is residing in the United States on H1-B, L-1 or F-1 Visas or he/she is a Citizen of the United States, make note of these features and restrictions that are applied to their dependents before applying for any of these Dependent Visas.



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    • profile image

      Akkam 2 years ago

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    • Anita Anne Asra profile image

      Opulentus Akhila Suri 4 years ago from Hyderabad

      Thank you for reading and commenting on my Hub CraftytotheCore. :)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      This is very interesting. I have had many friends come to the US from all over for work. I never quite knew how this worked.

    • Anita Anne Asra profile image

      Opulentus Akhila Suri 4 years ago from Hyderabad

      Thank you FlourishAnyway! :) Please do let me know if you have any ideas to improvise my writing or any particular Hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      This should prove very helpful to people. Good information.