The need to monitor foreign students being educated and trained in the U.S. is of vital importance to the national security of the U.S. The government believes that the value of SEVIS would be undermined if there is no distinction between an F-1 student and F-2 dependent when it comes to receiving an education. Studying for F-2 students can be separated into three categories, which are below.
- Academic Study
Dependents and spouses of F-1 students who are here on F-2 status may study part-time in any degree program at UH. That is, for undergraduate studies, enrollment may not exceed 11 hours in the fall and spring or 5 hours in the summer. For graduate studies, enrollment cannot exceed 8 hours in the fall and spring terms and 5 hours in the summer.
- Vocational or Recreational Study
An F-2 spouse or child can either do part-time or full-time study for vocational or recreational purposes. This means that the study is incident to their status and is occasional or casual for the purpose of pursuing a hobby or interest, such as English language courses or a tennis class.
- K-12 Study
An F-2 child in full-time study at an elementary or secondary school (Kindergarten through 12th grade) is allowed.
F-2 dependents may not work on or off-campus under any circumstances. If a change of status to F-1 is applied for, you must wait for the change of status to be approved and the new status has started before beginning on-campus employment. Off-campus employment will require one academic year of full-time studies before authorization is granted by our office(CPT) or through USCIS(OPT).
Changing Your Status by Mail
If you wish to pursue a full course of study or be employed, you must first apply for a Change of Status to F-1 with USCIS and wait until your status change is approved, which takes 2 – 4 months to process. ISSSO will issue you a new I-20 for the application. It is highly recommended that F-2 dependents not begin a course of study, even part-time until their change of status is approved. If the program start date is approaching, you should defer attendance until the change of status is approved.
Changing Your Status by Travel
If you previously entered the U.S. as an F-1 student and your F-1 visa sticker in your passport is still valid, another option is to travel to Mexico and re-enter using the F-1 visa. If you have a valid F-2 visa, you may want to consider traveling to Mexico to apply for an F-1 visa. You will need to obtain a new I-20 from ISSS in order to apply for the F-1 visa. In the case you are denied the F-1 visa, you may re-enter the U.S. on your valid F-2 visa.
You should schedule an appointment with an International Student Counselor to discuss these travel options and the risks involved. You can schedule an appointment by calling 713-743-5065.