What about my family?

Inviting your family and living in the United States

Life at Fermilab

We’ve compiled a lot of useful information about life in the United States and local resources. Please consider joining our many clubs and leagues, especially the National Accelerator Laboratory Women’s Organization.

Spouses and children

“Immediate” family members are eligible to accompany the employee or visitor with only a marriage and birth certificates required for a visa. They may also join you at a later date. Their status is “derivative” of yours, which means that if your status ends, so does theirs. However, if you status needs to be extended, and your family member(s) is/are in the US, a separate application must be submitted for them. If they are outside of the US, they may be able to use your approval notice to obtain a visa stamp and extend their status upon re-entry.

Extended family

Inviting an extended family member for a visit is slightly more complicated, as they are not eligible for derivative status and must apply and qualify for their own visa to visit you. Fermilab will provide you an invitation letter to be included in the visa application package, please contact us to request this letter.

Adjusting to life

Most dependent visa statuses do not allow employment, which can be a difficult change for your spouse. While your work keeps you occupied, you spouse may feel lonely and isolated. Spousal discontent is the major reason assignments abroad fail. We want to help you and your family have the best and fulfilling experience in the United States, regardless of whether you are visiting for a month or planning to build your life here. Even if your spouse is not allowed to accept gainful employment, s/he will find many fulfilling opportunities in our area. Please review our suggestions from the Users Office and the Visa Office. If you have school-age children, your spouse may be able to volunteer at their school. Please also feel free to contact us or stop by our offices in the Mezzanine and 15th Floor of the Wilson Hall.

Travel

A dependent may leave and re-enter the US with a new or unexpired visa stamp and appropriate supporting documents. If the trip is to Canada or Mexico, and lasts less than 30 days, a visa is not required thanks to the automatic revalidation process. However, if the traveler applied for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico, and the application is still pending or has been denied, he or she will not be able to re-enter the US.

Social security number

Your relative may or may not be eligible to request a social security number (SSN) in the U.S. You may review the eligibility requirements and the required documents on the SSA website. If a person is not eligible for a SS Number, they may apply for the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number instead.

Driving

Temporary visitor driving licenses might be available for your family members without a SSN. In order to obtain a license you must pass a written and a driving test. IL Rules of the Road will help you study for the written portion.

Family members in F or J status are eligible for the SSN and thus follow a different set of rules.

B-2 family

B-2 (tourist) status usually is given to the family of B-1 business visitors. Normally, B-2 family are admitted for the same authorized stay as the B-1 status holder or for the period of need, as demonstrated to the CBP officer during admission.

Employment

Families in B-2 status are not authorized to work in the U.S.; however, many community-based organizations offer opportunities for volunteering (unpaid work, with no possibility of future employment). As long as no compensation is involved, and the opportunity is officially advertised as a volunteer position, the foreign national may participate.

Education

Family members in B-2 status may not attend schools in the U.S. Visitors may, however, engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature.

J-2 family

J-2 status is given to the spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of J-1 status holders. These family members each get their own DS-2019 to reflect their approval for this status. To obtain J-2 visas, they must submit proof of the family relationship and proof that the J-1 status holder either is also applying for a visa, or already holds J-1 status in the U.S. They also must show that they hold appropriate medical insurance. If children in J-2 status get married or reach 21 years, they are no longer eligible for J-2 status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S. J-2 is a derivative status, which means that J-2 status is terminated as soon as J-1 status ends.

Home residency requirement

J-2 dependents of a J-1 foreign national who was selected for a two-year home residency requirement and separately subject to the same requirement! J-2 dependents must rely on the J-1 to apply for a waiver of the 212(e) requirement. J-2s may not apply for the waiver separately from the J-1.

Employment

J-2 status holders may apply to the USCIS for a work permit by filing a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, which – when issued – is a general work permit that is valid in 1-year increments. Please see here for complete instructions about how to prepare and file a Form I-765 Application for Work Permit, for a J-2 spouse. Bring the completed application to the Visa Office for review before submitting it to USCIS. The J-2 status holder may begin employment only after receiving the approved EAD, which can take 3 months to be issued. If they work before receiving the EAD, they violate their J-2 status.

Without an EAD, family members in J-2 status cannot work. If they do work, it violates their status and they then are “out of status.” Sometimes severe consequences can result from being “out of status”.

Education

Family members in J-2 status may study in the U.S. to pursue a degree or simply for recreation. Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children.

J-2 dependents subject to the 212 (e) residence requirement must obtain a waiver of the residence requirement to be eligible to change any nonimmigrant status except A or G. Other J-2 nonimmigrants are eligible to change status to F-1.

F-2 family

The spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of F-1 visa status holders are issued F-2 visa status. They obtain this status upon submission of proof of the family relationship – there are no other requirements. Children who get married or who turn 21 years are no longer eligible for F-2 status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S. F-2 is a derivative status, which means that F-2 status is terminated as soon as F-1 status ends.

Employment

Spouses in F-2 status are not authorized to work. If they do work, it violates their status and sometimes severe consequences can result from being “out of status”.

Education

An F-2 spouse may not engage in a full course of study, but may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study. The F-2 spouse may still engage in study that is merely avocational or recreational in nature. To engage in a full course of study, an F-2 spouse must apply for and be granted F-1, M-1, or J-1 status.

Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children. An F-2 child may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study at the post-secondary level. An F-2 child may also engage in recreational or avocational study. To study full-time at the post-secondary level, the child must apply for and be granted F-1, M-1, or J-1 status.

Social security number

F-2 dependents are not allowed to work, and therefore are not eligible for a social security number. However, an F-1 student may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for his/her spouse and each child in F2 status, for tax filing purposes. ITIN is an identification number issued by the IRS for individuals who do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

H-4 Family

The spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of H-1B visa status holders are issued H-4 visa status. They get this upon submission of proof of the family relationship – there are no other requirements. Children who get married or who turn 21 years are no longer eligible for H-4 status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S.

Employment

Family members in H-4 status cannot usually work. If they do work, it violates their status and sometimes severe consequences can result from being “out of status”. Employment authorization exception applies to certain H-4 spouses.

Education

Family members in H-4 status may study in the U.S. to pursue a degree or simply for recreation. Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children.

O-3 family

The spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of O-1 visa status holders are issued O-3 visa status. They get this upon submission of proof of the family relationship – there are no other requirements. Children who get married or who turn 21 years are no longer eligible for O-3 status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S.

Employment

Family members in O-3 status are not authorized to work. If they do work, it violates their status and sometimes severe consequences can result from being “out of status”.

Education

Family members in O-3 status may study in the U.S. to pursue a degree or simply for recreation. Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children.

TD Family

The spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of TN visa status holders are issued TD visa status. They get this upon submission of proof of the family relationship – there are no other requirements. Children who get married or who turn 21 years are no longer eligible for TD status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S.

Employment

Family members in TD status are not authorized to work. If they do work, it violates their status and sometimes severe consequences can result from being “out of status”.

Education

Family members in TD status may study in the U.S. to pursue a degree or simply for recreation. Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children.

E-3 family

The spouse and dependent unmarried children under 21 of E-3 status holders are issued their own E-3 visa status. They get this upon submission of proof of the family relationship – there are no other requirements. Children who get married or who turn 21 years are no longer eligible for E-3 status, and must change to another visa status to remain in the U.S.

Employment

E-3 family members may apply to the USCIS for a work permit by filing a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, which – when issued – is a general work permit that is valid in 1-year increments. Please see here for complete instructions about how to prepare and file a Form I-765 Application for Work Permit (specific to J-2 EAD, but similar process). Bring the completed application to the Visa Office for review before submitting it to USCIS. The E-3 status holder may begin employment only after receiving the approved EAD, which can take 3 months to be issued. If they work before receiving the EAD, they violate their E-3 status.

Education

Family members in E-3 status may study in the U.S. to pursue a degree or simply for recreation. Minor children may attend K-12 schools, while post-secondary education is allowed for minor unmarried children.

 

Questions? Comments? Contact the Visa Office!