Bringing Your Spouse and Children as Dependents

Most US immigration statuses allow family members to come to the United States to join their family.

Short Term Visits

Family members visiting the US for 6 months or less may apply for tourist status.

Longer Visits

Typically, spouses and children under the age of 21 can get a “dependent” immigration status in order to join their family member in the US.

Common immigration status for dependent family members includes:

  • Family members of J-1 exchange visitor = J-2 dependent
  • Family members of H-1B employee = H-4 dependent
  • Family members of TN employee = TD dependent
  • Family members of E-3 employee = E-3D dependent
  • Family members of O-1 specialist = O-3 dependent

There are two options of how to apply for immigration status:

1. Apply Outside the US by applying for a visa at a US Consulate; and then entering the US in the dependent immigration status.

The instructions on how to apply for a dependent visa will be on the website of the US Consulate at which the application will be submitted.


2. Apply Inside the US by filing an application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) while inside the US.

Some family members who are already inside the US may be eligible to apply for dependent status while inside the US by applying to the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The application, instructions, and list of required documents are available on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website.

General Document Requirements

The application instructions will include a list of specific documents that are required to be submitted with the application. 

Generally, most dependent immigration statuses require at least the following documents (check the application instructions for a list of specific documents that are required):

  • Proof of relationship to the principle family member
  • Proof of the principle family member’s valid US immigration status
    • Documents:  I-94 (official document confirming immigration status in the US) for principle family member; letter from OSU confirming the principle family member’s ongoing relationship with OSU; etc.
    • (for example, an applicant requesting H-4 status to accompany their H-1B spouse will need to show their spouse’s H-1B I-94; and a verification of (current) employment from OSU to confirm ongoing employment at OSU)

Other Considerations for Dependents

The US Consulate and Immigration Service have detailed instructions on their application processes. 

Because OSU’s Office of International Services  is not a private attorney firm, we can only provide immigration advising on applications OSU files.  Since dependent applications are personal applications that cannot be filed by OSU, International Services cannot advise on dependent’s immigration applications. 

If there are questions or concerns that are not addressed by the US Consulate or US Immigration Service; family members could choose to consult with an immigration attorney.  A good immigration lawyer will explain the options, and provide insights on the application process.  Immigration attorneys can be found through the professional organization for immigration attorneys, the American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA), at  Benefits-eligible OSU employees may also have a free consultation with an immigration attorney through OSU’s employee assistance program, which is called Beyond Benefits

Some immigration categories require dependent family members to be covered by health and accident insurance throughout their stay in the US (e.g. J-2). 

Even for those dependents who are not required to maintain health and accident insurance, there can be significant benefits to doing so.  Health care and accident costs in the US are not subsidized by the government and costs can be very high for health care services. 

More information about options for health and accident insurance are available at:

Some dependent immigration categories allow dependent family members to request immigration work authorization (for example, J-2, E-3).  The application, instructions, and list of required documents are available for free on the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) website.

Dependent family members may choose to volunteer for work that is typically not paid.  Immigration may consider some volunteering to be unauthorized (unpaid) employment if it is work that is typically paid work or has previously been paid work.  Dependent family members may want to check with an immigration attorney to make sure this volunteer position will not violate their immigration status.

Dependent family members may register for classes at any US educational institution. 

  • Kindergarten to 12th Grade School District Information for Children: School district contact information and information about enrollment
  • Post-Secondary School Information: If a family member chooses to enroll full-time as a post-secondary (college or university) student, it may be beneficial for the dependent family member to transition to a student immigration status.  In those situations, dependent family members may want to check with an immigration attorney to determine whether changing to a student immigration status would be beneficial.

Get oriented to Oregon State University by reviewing the OSU Office of International Services’ orientation materials specifically for International Employees and Exchange Visitors.

To Access the International Employee and Exchange Visitor Orientation:

There are a variety of opportunities for family members to become involved on campus and in the community.

OSU Family Resource Center

The Family Resource Center advocates for and provides quality programming and services to all OSU families with dependent care needs to support the academic, professional and personal growth and success of the whole person. Learn about our resources, from various childcare opportunities to campus lactation rooms to elder care at the OSU Family Resource Center.

Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center (CMLC)

A non-profit organization located on the OSU, Corvallis campus offers opportunities for volunteering, English language development (beginning to advanced English classes, conversation circles, conversation partner program), and youth programming including childcare during classes. Additional information are available through the CMLC.

Crossroads Conversation School for Women

A non-profit organization located next to the OSU, Corvallis campus offers intermediate English instruction at a minimal cost. The school is not only a place to learn English, but also offers a social environment where women from all over the world can make friends and feel more at home in the community and culture. Additional information and enrollment forms are available through Crossroads International.

International Moms Group (IMG)

This group takes pride in helping international mothers gain relevant information for their health, their family, and their world through guest speakers, cultural presentations, and cooperative playroom for children. Local experts regularly share needed information in a caring, interactive format. Additional information and enrollment forms are available through the IMG.

The Office of International Services – International Employee and Exchange Visitors, is the central campus resource for hosting international visitors and/or hiring international employees. This mailing list is to update current international exchange visitors, and subscribers, about upcoming events, activities, and trainings that may be relevant to this audience. To join the mailing list, register at