Inviting a Spouse or Children to the United States

Inviting Spouse and/or Children to the US (Students)

For a spouse or child under the age of 21, there can be a few different options for having them join you in the United States while you complete your academic program. If they will stay for a period of time longer than a B-1/B-2 visitor visa allows (more than 90 days), you will need to work with the ISSS to obtain an F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019 for each individual.

The F-2 and J-2 visa is a status which is dependent upon the maintenance of your F-1 or J-1 status, and is most appropriate for any dependent who will spend a significant amount of time in the United States while you are an active F-1 or J-1 visa holder. If you depart the United States, or end your F-1 or J-1 status early, your dependents must depart with you.

What is a dependent?

A dependent is a legal spouse or any unmarried child under the age of 21 years. A significant other (girlfriend or boyfriend), fiancé, or common-law spouse (significant other with whom you live but are not married) are not eligible to be a dependent of your immigration status. If the person you want to invite to the U.S. falls into one of these categories, please review the information below under “Inviting Relatives and Friends to the U.S.”

Many international students want their families to join them in the U.S. during their studies. Before they arrive, we encourage you to research the types of resources available to you and your dependents to assist with adjustment, education and language support. Below are several useful resources and considerations to keep in mind.


In order for ISSS to issue an immigration document for your dependent(s), you must provide evidence that you have sufficient financial support for not just yourself, but also the dependents who will join you. Please take the following additional expenses into consideration:

  • medical costs and medication not covered by health insurance
  • car expenses
  • day-care, baby-sitting or extra-curricular activities for your child(ren)
  • winter clothing for you and your family members

It is essential to have adequate funds for your family. Mines requires the following to issue a dependent immigration document:

F-2 Student Dependent Minimum Additional Funding per year J-2 Student Dependent Minimum Additional Funding per year J-2 Scholar Dependent Minimum Additional Funding per year
Spouse $5,500 Spouse $5,500 Spouse $7,200
Child $3,500 Child $3,500 Child $3,600


When ready, submit your documentation and request through the International Portal (click on the correct category below):

F-2 dependent request

J-2 dependent request

Visa Issuance

ISSS will issue a form F-2 I-20 or J-2 DS-2019 for you to send to your family member in your home country. Your family member will use that form to apply for a dependent F-2 or J-2 visa in their passport. It is important that you include additional documents with the I-20 or DS-2019. These additional documents include:

  • A bank statement, issued within the last six months, verifying the amount of liquid money you have in your account(s).
    • If you have a graduate assistantship, a letter from your academic department verifying the amount of your award.  Make sure the letter specifically mentions how much you are receiving for the Tuition Scholarship, otherwise the visa officer will not include it.
  • A certified English translation of an official marriage certificate (for spouses) or evidence of family relationship (for children) such as birth certificates or adoption papers.
  • A copy of your most recent Mines transcript or future registration
  • A Verification Letter stating you are currently enrolled full-time for the current fall or spring semester
  • Photocopies of your I-20, I-94, passport, and visa pages
  • Application to obtain a New dependent immigration document:

Additionally, please be sure to review guidance from the U.S. embassy where your dependent will apply for the visa. The two most common reasons visas are denied are (1) lack of adequate financial support and/or (2) difficulty establishing home ties to demonstrate that the dependent and/or primary visa holder intends to return home after completion of the academic or research program.  Please see an advisor if you have any questions or concerns about the dependent process to obtain the visa.

Additional Considerations

Health Insurance

It is essential to have health insurance for your family. Health care in the United States is extremely expensive without medical insurance. F-1 and J-1 students may be eligible to purchase insurance for their dependent(s) within 30 days of their arrival to the U.S. through the Mines Health Center. All J-2 visitors are required to have medical insurance meeting the minimum regulatory requirements for the J-1 visa.


There are many options in the Golden, CO area for childcare and family activities. Please review the Family Support at Mines information.


K-12 Schooling for children dependents

Children who are five years old by October 1 will need to be enrolled in school. It is important to find out which school your child will need to attend by researching your county of residence. Once you have identified the school you need to enroll your child in, you will need to contact that school directly to learn which educational or medical documents are required for enrollment and attendance. F-2 children are able to study full-time at the elementary/primary or secondary levels. F-2 dependents are limited to part-time enrollment for post-secondary education. J-2 dependents may choose to study full-time or part-time regardless of level.

Attending universities/colleges in the U.S.

If your dependent wishes to become a student at the Colorado School of Mines or any other college or university, please visit the International Office to discuss options with an ISSS advisor.


Colorado requires certain immunizations as a condition of enrollment in any licensed daycare center, pre-school, or school. If possible, provide a Certificate of Immunizations card for your family members to complete and bring with them.

Cultural Adjustment

There are many opportunities for cultural adjustment in the Golden area. Some activities your spouse can consider include joining an International Club, helping at your children’ s daycare or school, participating in sports, and volunteering with local organizations. Additional resources can be found here.

Inviting Friends and Family to the United States

What kind of visa should my relatives apply for?

Most visitors coming to the United States should apply for a B-2 visitor visa at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in order to enter the U.S. as a tourist.  Review the Department of State site for more information on this type of visa. However, some individuals may be eligible to enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program depending on their country of origin.

Parents and siblings of people in F-1 or J-1 status are not eligible for F-2 or J-2 status.  Forms I-20 and DS-2019 cannot be issued to invite parents, parents-in-law, or siblings.  If required as part of the B-1/B-2 visa application at the U.S. embassy abroad, you may send your relatives a copy of your I-20 or DS-2019 form.  Do not send your original I-20 or DS-2019 to your parents, other non-dependent relatives, or friends.  Your original form I-20 or DS-2019 is your legal document for your immigration status in the United States and should be kept in a safe place. You should maintain copies of all immigration documents for your records.

If you wish to invite your spouse or children under the age of 21 to the United States to stay with you throughout the duration of your program, please review the information above in “Inviting Your Spouse and/or Children to the U.S.”

What documents do my relatives need to obtain a B-2 visa? 

You are encouraged to review the U.S. embassy website for the location where your friends or family may apply to best understand that location’s specific process. In addition, ISSS recommends that your relatives take the following documents with them to the U.S. embassy appointment:

  • A letter of invitation from you:  Write a letter in English stating (1) whom you are inviting, (2) the purpose of the tourism visit (for example, vacation, attend graduation, meet a new baby, etc.), (3) the dates (even approximate dates) of the visit, (4) what financial support you are offering, if any (for example, cost of travel, room and board, cost of meals, etc.)
  • Evidence of financial support:  If you are going to provide any financial support for the visit, you need to furnish your relatives with appropriate supporting documentation.  This could be a letter verifying employment and/or a bank statement showing not just your current balance(s), but also the history of the account.
  • Visa application form, along with passport-style photographs
  • Evidence of ties to the home country. These can include additional family members, property, bank accounts, a business, employment, or anything else demonstrating a strong need to return home following the visit to the United States.
  • Enrollment Verification from the Mines Registrar.

How long can people in B-2 status stay in the United States?

The length of a visitor’s initial permission to stay in B-2 status is determined by the officer at the port-of-entry who will provide a validity date in the passport and on the I-94 record.  The maximum initial period is six months.  People who want to remain longer need to apply for an extension through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Additional information is available on the USCIS website.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program allows visitors from certain countries to visit the U.S. for pleasure or business for up to 90 days without a formal visa.  Visitors must meet certain requirements to participate in the program.  Eligible visitors do not need to visit a U.S. consulate and apply for a visa prior to visiting the U.S but anyone planning to use this program are required to register their travel plans in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) a minimum of 72 hours prior to departure.

Individuals who enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program are not eligible to change status from within the United States. Additionally, Visa Waiver Program participants cannot apply for an extension of their stay beyond 90 days.  Individuals who previously experienced visa denials or who believe they might be ineligible for a visa should contact their local U.S. embassy or consulate prior to traveling on the Visa Waiver Program to verify eligibility.

Health Insurance Reminder

Due to the high cost of health care without medical insurance in the United States, it is recommended that all visitors have some form of health insurance that will cover them while in the United States.  Most visitors should consider getting “major medical coverage,” which is health insurance that goes into effect if they are unexpectedly hospitalized as a result of an accident or an illness. Most local healthcare providers in the Golden area do not accept health insurance plans from other countries.

Can B-2 or Visa Waiver Program visitors enroll in a degree program?

All visitors in B-2 or WT status who entered the U.S. are restricted from enrolling in a degree program.  Such enrollment will constitute a violation of status and can have long lasting impacts on current and future visa applications. To note, it can be also extremely difficult for individuals who entered the United States in B-1/B-2 status to change to F-1 status while in the U.S.  If you have a relative who is considering the possibility of applying for a degree program in the U.S., please contact an ISSS adviser for information on options available to them.

Can B-2 or Visa Waiver Program visitors work while in the U.S.?

No, visitors in B-2 status or on the Visa Waiver Program cannot work or receive any form or financial compensation while in the U.S. under these statuses.


International Student & Scholar Services
924 16th Street
Green Center, Suite 219
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401

Office Hours
Monday through Friday, 9:00a – 12:00p and 1:30p – 4:00p

Main Office Phone and Email
(303) 273-3210 /