International Students and Their Dependents | F-2 Visas and Work and Study Authorization

Share this Article
Facebook Icon LinkedIn Icon Twitter Icon
Cory D. Halliburton

Cory D. Halliburton



Cory Halliburton serves as general counsel and business adviser to a nationwide nonprofit / tax-exempt client base, as well as for multi-state professional service companies. He is a results-oriented attorney, with executive-level strategy and an understanding of the intersection of law and business judgment. With a practical upbringing, he pushes for process-driven results in internal governance, strategy and compliance with employment law, and complex or unique contracts and business relationships.

He dedicated the first ten years of his practice to mainly commercial litigation matters in West Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. During that experience, Mr. Halliburton transitioned his practice to a more general counsel role, with an emphasis on nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, advising those organizations through formation, dissolution, litigation, governance, leadership succession, employment law, contracts, intellectual property, tax exemption issues, policy creation, mergers and other. He has served as borrower’s counsel for tax-exempt bond and loan transactions near $100 million aggregate; some with complex pre-issue construction, debt payoff and other debt financing challenges.

Mr. Halliburton also serves as outside legal and business advisor for executive professionals in multi-state engineering firms, with a focus on drafting and counsel on significant service agreements, employment law matters, and protection of trade secrets.

On April 30, 2022, Freeman Law posted my blog that provided a brief overview of international students in the U.S. pursuant to an F-1 visa and the limited circumstances under which those visa-holders may work in the U.S. See International Students, F-1 Visas, Graduation an . . . Work in the U.S.? Since that blog hit the Freeman Law webpage, I was accosted with questions about dependents of the F-1 student visa holder. This blog serves to supplement that previous blog, with a focus on the F-2 visa holder.

Dependents of an F-1 visa holder are within the scope of the definition of “immigrant” contained in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(F), which defines “immigrant” to include “the alien spouse and minor children of any alien” having a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning, who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study at an established academic institution (i.e., the F-1 student), if such spouse or minor children are accompanying or following to join such F-1 student. See also 26 U.S.C. § 1201 (Issuance of visas).

The relevant regulation—8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(3)—provides, in part: “The spouse and minor children accompanying an F-1 student are eligible for admission in F-2 status if the student is admitted in F-1 status. The spouse and minor children following-to-join an F-1 student are eligible for admission to the United States in F-2 status if they are able to demonstrate that the F-1 student has been admitted and is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study, or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies.”

At the time the spouse or minor children of an F-1 student seek admission, the eligible spouse and minor children of an F-1 student with a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Form I-20 must individually present an original SEVIS Form I-20 issued in the name of each F-2 dependent issued by a school authorized by the government for attendance by F-1 foreign students. Id.

As reported in the earlier blog, an F-1 student is allowed to engage in qualified curricular practical training and employment through the Non-SEVIS Form process or through a SEVIS Form I-20 process, provided that the employment is directly related to his or her major area of study. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(i)(A)-(B). After completion of the course study, the F-1 student may engage in qualified optional practical training. See id. at § 214.2(f)(10)(ii).

However, the F-2 spouse and minor children of an F-1 student—each of whom were issued an individual SEVIS Form I-20—may not accept employment and, with limited exceptions, the F-2 dependent may engage only less than a full course of study, as defined by the regulations. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(15)(i) (“The F-2 spouse and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment.”), (ii) (authorization for qualified study for the F-2 dependent of an F-1 student).

The prohibition of employment for an F-2 spouse of F-1 student applies during the F-1 student’s authorized practical training as well as any authorized optimal practical training period. For authorization to work or to take on a full course of study, the F-2 spouse or dependent must apply for and receive alternate authorization, such as the F-1, M-1, or J-1 nonimmigrant status. See id. at § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(A)(1)-(2). However, “[a]n F-2 child may engage in full-time study, including any full course of study, in any elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).” See id. at § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(B). “An F-2 spouse and child violates his or her nonimmigrant status by enrolling in any study except as provided in” 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(15)(ii)(A) or (B).


International and Offshore Tax Compliance Attorneys

Need help with tax issues? Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your rights and the ways we can assist in your defense. We handle all types of cases, including complex international & offshore tax compliance. Schedule a consultation or call (214) 984-3000 to discuss your international tax concerns or questions. 


See Sample Form I-20

Department of Homeland Security’s Students and The Form I-20

Department of Homeland Security’s Bringing Dependents to the United States

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s SEVP’s Governing Regulations for Students and Schools