Student Immigration Definitions

Obtaining J-1 Exchange Visitor
Student Category Status at Columbia

Transfer of J-1 Supervision

Change of Status to F-1

Potential Delays in Visa Issuance


Student Tax Information

Message for Canadian Students

Maintaining J-1 Status

DS-2019 Recertification

Health Insurance Overview for J-1 Students

J-1 Travel Information

DHS Information on Arrival Problems

J-1 Extension of Stay (Current Program)

J-1 Extension of Stay to Begin New Program


J-1 Work Opportunities

J-1 On-Campus Work Request

J-1 Academic Training

Employment Authorization for J-2

J-1 Leave of Absence, Suspension or Withdrawal

Student Departure Information

Home Country Residency Requirement

Reduced Course Load Request

Address Change Form

Dependents of J-1 Students

In the language of immigration regulations, the individual in J-1 exchange visitor status is the "principal alien". Your dependents - spouse or unmarried, minor (under age 21) children - come to the United States in a derivative status, J-2. That means their primary purpose for being in the United States is to accompany you. Their J-2 status is completely dependent on your valid J-1 status.

Each J-2 dependent will receive his or her own SEVIS-generated form DS-2019, with a unique SEVIS ID number. However, it is the J-1 principal who signs the DS-2019.The J-1 student has to provide documentation showing the availability of funds in excess of their own cost of living expenses to obtain a dependent DS-2019. Currently, it is $1,000/month for a spouse, and $500/month per child. In addition, each dependent must provide a copy of his or her passport.

Federal regulations allow individuals in J-2 status to apply for employment authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as long as the J-1 is self-supporting.

Currently, individuals in J-2 status are permitted to be enrolled as students, either part-time or fulltime, but that provision may change in the future.

The International Students and Scholars Office administers an International Spouse Network through which spouses of students and scholars can meet others in similar situations.

Domestic Partners

For J-1s, the dependent status of J-2 is reserved for spouses, and/or unmarried, minor (under age 21) children. This presents difficulties for those in relationships without marriage.

In July, 2001 the State Department sent a cable to consulates putting forth new guidance stating that B-2 (visitor) visas may be appropriate for cohabiting (unmarried) partners, whether of the same or opposite sex.

The cable explains that only a relationship that is recognized under law as granting all the rights of marriage can be the basis for a dependent visa such as F-2, J-2, H-4, etc.

However, an unmarried partner whose primary purpose in coming to the U.S. is to accompany his or her partner can be issued a B-2 as long as he or she does not intend to work, and is otherwise eligible for a visa.

Though B-2 visits are usually for short periods of time, it is permissible for the accompanying partner to intend to accompany the principal for the duration of a study program in the U.S. The accompanying partner must intend to depart at the conclusion of the principal's authorized stay in the U.S. In such cases there is a fixed end point, and therefore the B-2 applicant meets the requirement of temporary intent, even though she intends to stay longer than six months or a year.

This cable pre-dates September 11 and the ensuing security measures and added scrutiny that visa applications have received since then, and the ISSO has no knowledge of how this guidance is being applied.

Last Reviewed: 31 March 2014 Last modified: 31 March 2014
Columbia University International Students and Scholars Office