Can a person with an F-2 visa work in the United States?
Many individuals seeking to enter the United States to pursue higher education are relieved to find out that their spouses and children may accompany them while they study in America. However, many of these individuals wonder if their spouses can work while they are studying. While the technical answer to that question is no, it is possible for the F-2 spouse to work by changing their status if they are qualified to seek employment through a status other than their F-2 visa.
Why F-2 visa holders cannot work without changing their status
As part of their program requirement, F-1 students are expected to be able to support themselves for the duration of their education. Furthermore, F-1 students’ ability to work is limited to Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Therefore, lawmakers determined that F-2 dependents should be allowed even less ability to work than F-1 students. As such, dependents with an F-2 visa may not accept employment in the United States without first changing their nonimmigrant status.
What activities can F-2 dependents engage in?
According to 8 C.F.R. §214.2(f)(15) F-2 dependent children are allowed to attend elementary school through 12th grade. F-2 spouses may participate in avocational or recreational programs. They may also study part time at the postsecondary level in a certified program at an SEVP-certified school in accordance with 8 C.F.R. §214.2(f)(15)(ii). However, if an F-2 spouse wishes to enroll in a full course of study, they will have to separately qualify for, apply, and obtain an F-1 visa.
Examples of how an F-2 Dependent can change their status in order to work in the United States
An individual who enters with F-2 status can change their status by obtaining an H-1B visa, if that F-2 dependent has a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialty occupation. In order to pursue an H-1B visa, the F-2 dependent would first have to obtain a job offer in that specialty field and would have to have their application picked through the infamous lottery process.
Another plausible scenario would be an F-2 dependent that obtains E-2 treaty investor status. In order to obtain E-2 status, the F-2 dependent would need to be a citizen of an E-2 treaty country, would have to invest a substantial amount of money, would have to be able to show a plan for profits that would not be marginal, and would have to demonstrate a plan to hire American workers.
An F-2 dependent could also change their status by obtaining an L-1 visa. The F-2 dependent seeking an L-1 visa would need the requisite experience within the transferring company and the appropriate corporate structure must exist in the United States.
Because the analysis for each case will depend on the individual and their experience, those seeking advice on how to change their F-2 nonimmigrant status should consult a qualified immigration attorney. The attorneys at the Luminary Law Group are here to assist you with all of your immigration needs. Call 213-334-4969 to schedule a consultation today.
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