Change of status for eligible dependents

If your dependents (spouse and children under 21) are already in the U.S. in another valid nonimmigrant status and wish to change to the appropriate ‘dependent’ classification (J-2,  F-2, or H-4), please follow these steps:

  1. Contact your ISSO student or scholar (for employees) advisor to discuss your situation and arrange an appointment.
  2. Request a DS-2019 or I-20  for each dependent (for change to J-2 or F-2 ONLY)
  3. Prepare the following items in advance of your appointment:
    • USCIS Form I-539
    • Personal Check or Money Order payable to “Department of Homeland Security” for the I-539 fee
    • Personal Letter to the USCIS – Please have your spouse write a short letter explaining the circumstances and reasons for requesting the change to a dependent. If only your children are changing status, you may write a letter for them. Email a copy to the ISSO advisor who is meeting with you so it can be reviewed before your appointment. For changes or extensions of H-4 status, the ISSO may be able to concurrently submit this application with the H-1B application – a personal statement will not be required in this circumstance, but is recommended for any independently submitted application.
    • Marriage Certificate (if applicable) – Must include an official translation if not already in English.
    • Birth Certificate for each minor child (if applicable) – Must include an official translation if not already in English.
    • Financial Documents – Bring all original financial documentation that you provided to request the I-20 or DS-2019 for each of your dependents if the originals are not already in your file at the ISSO. For dependents of BU employees, a confirmation of BU salary may also be provided as funding verification.
    • Proof of Your Current Status – In order to obtain status for your dependent, the application needs to prove YOUR status as a student or scholar. Students should obtain a transcript of all course work completed and certification of your full-time enrollment for the current semester (or for the next semester if currently between semesters of study) from the University Registrar.
      Scholars should provide copies of appointment letters that describe your affiliation with the University and outline your appointment dates
    • Your current and previous DS-2019 or I-20 forms
    • Passport biographical page and I-94 record for you and each of your dependents.

You may be advised during your appointment to obtain additional documentation that will help your specific case before mailing the application to the USCIS. Mailing instructions will be provided at the time of your appointment.

Application Processing

Processing times vary, and it may be several months before a decision is made on the application. While the application is pending, your dependents may remain in the U.S. If they leave the U.S. before the application is approved, the application will become invalid. Please contact your ISSO advisor immediately if your dependents must leave the U.S. before their application for a dependent classification is approved.