Carnegie Mellon University

Travel Information for Family Members, Dependents & Visitors

You may consider bringing your spouse or dependents to the U.S. to live with you, or you may have family and friends  visiting from abroad. Feel free to share this information with individuals who may be traveling to the U.S. with you or coming to visit you in the U.S.

F-1 and J-1 students/scholars on Carnegie Mellon University immigration documents who wish to bring immediate family members as F-2 or J-2 dependents should contact OIE by email with their request.

OIE will issue an I-20 or DS-2019 form for each immediate dependent family member. only spouses and dependent children - unmarried minors under age 21 - are eligible for dependent visas. Dependents of those in F-1 status will receive F-2 I-20s allowing them to apply for F-2 visas. Dependents of those in J-1 status will receive J-2 DS-2019s allowing them to apply for J-2 visas. Parents, domestic partners, relatives that are not spouses or dependent children, and friends are not eligible for an F-2 or J-2 visa (see B-2 Tourist Visa below).

J-1 Visitor Note: If your DS-2019 was not issued by CMU, you must request dependent documents from your J program sponsor.

Requesting Immigration Documents

To request an I-20 or DS-2019 for eligible dependents, submit the following to OIE by email:

  1. Dependent Immigration Document Request Form (pdf);
  2. Copy of passport picture page for each family member; and
  3. Original documentation of finances to support yourself (tuition plus living expenses) plus additional funds to support your immediate dependents for one year. This means including updated funding information for both yourself and your dependents. Funding documentation may be a combination of:
    • Original, personal bank statements in English from savings or checking accounts, dated within the past 6 months.
    • Department letters of support for an assistantship, etc. are acceptable if they are less than 6 months old.
    • Sponsor support letter outlining the support AND documentation of the source of support (for example, original bank statements showing adequate savings, a letter from the employer indicating adequate salary, etc.) less  than 6 months old. See undergraduate and graduate affidavit of support forms (pdf). 

In case of travel to other countries (other than "contiguous territory"), the dependent must have an F-2 or J-2 entry visa. In addition, the dependent should carry photocopies of all pertinent immigration documentation of the F-1 or J-1 principal (student/scholar).

Important Note: We advise keeping a copy of your submitted documents to provide to the embassy/consulate at the F-2/J-2 visa interview or to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in the change of status application.

Funding Amounts for Students & Dependents

Estimated 2022-2023 Expenses

Undergraduate Expenses

12 months total         

$82,803
Graduate Expenses

12 months total

$30,918 + Tuition

Student 12 month total
Dependent Expenses (if applicable)

  • Spouse

  • 1st Child

  • Each additional child
  • $9,264

  • $6,996

  • $4,548

J Scholar Expenses

12 month total $30,564

Scholar 12 month total
Dependent Expenses (if applicable)

  • Spouse

  • Each child

  • $14,964

  • $13,356

Important Note: F-2 dependents are not eligible for employment or full-time studies in the U.S. J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization to USCIS. Learn more.

Spouses and minor dependents (unmarried children under age 21) of H-1B visa holders may be eligible for H-4 status unless they hold their own primary visa status (such as a spouse of an H-1B worker who is in full-time F-1 student status).

Generally, information about dependent family members who will change status is included with the H-1B application. For family members already in the U.S., the family will need to do the following:

  1. Complete Form I-539: Request for Change of Non-immigrant Status
  2. Submit copies of the I-94 card(s)
  3. Pay the required application fee

Spouses/dependents in H-4 status may study part- or full-time, but may not be employed for compensation by a U.S. employer. If the H-1B status is approved, the spouse/dependent will receive a separate Approval Notice for H-4 status. Often in Pittsburgh, the H-4 spouse/dependent is notified of their approval shortly before the H-1B primary status holder. 

H-4 spouses/dependents traveling outside of the U.S. separately from H-1B holder should carry:

  • Current valid passport and H-4 visa stamp;
  • Copy of the H-1B Approval Notice, visa stamp, and passport of the primary H-1B holder;
  • If change of status to H-4 was granted in the U.S., the USCIS Approval Notice granting H-4 status;
  • Copies of marriage certificate in English or with English translation (for visa application); and
  • Additional proof of the relationship (such as wedding or other photos of the H-4 spouse/dependent with the H-1B employee) may be helpful for the visa application - review the embassy/consulate website for guidance.

Many students and scholars may wish to invite friends and family for a short visit to the United States. The B-2 visitor visa is a good choice for visits of six months or fewer in duration or for family members who do not qualify for an F-2 or J-2 dependent visa (such as domestic partners, parents, siblings, cousins, etc.)

The most important part of the B-2 visa application at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad will be the applicant’s demonstration of ties to the home country (see B below), the short duration of the trip, their planned return to the home country, and their ability to cover expenses. As a student, however, you can provide supporting documents for the B-2 visa application (see A below).

This is not a comprehensive list of all documents required for the B-2 visa. Comprehensive information can be found on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the visa application will be made.

Since domestic partners are not eligible for F-2/J-2 dependent status, the Foreign Affairs Manual on the dependent request form outlines information regarding a longer B-2 entry admission for an official domestic partner.

A. To invite your friends or relatives (anyone other than your spouse and dependent children) to the U.S., you may send the following to the invited individual:

  1. A letter of invitation written by you in English, stating that you would like to invite the person for a visit. The letter should include:
    1. Name and relationship to you of the visitor
    2. The length of the visit
    3. Who will provide financial support for the visit
      1. If you will provide financial support during their visit, provide evidence of support such as a bank statement, assistantship letter, sponsor's letter, etc.
    4. The purpose of the visit (i.e., to attend graduation)
      1. If the visit is to attend your graduation ceremony, you can print out your expected graduation date from the verification section in Student Information Online (SIO)
  2. Evidence of your student or scholar status, such as a copy of your I-20/DS-2019 and/or a verification of enrollment (available in SIO)

B. Your family members or friends should also bring “proof of ties” to their home country with them when they apply for the visa stamp at the U.S. consulate, such as:

  • Copies of deeds to any property (land, house, apartment) they own in their home country
  • Bank statements of any accounts they maintain at home
  • A letter from their employer stating they will return to their job after their U.S. visit (if they are employed)
  • All other documentation as specifically required by the embassy or consulate

Additional Information about the B-2 Visa

  • Visitors in B-2 status may have a difficult time changing status in the U.S. to a different visa category. B-2 visitors are advised not to enroll in classes at a U.S. university or college.
  • B-2 visitors may apply for an extension of stay with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by filing an I-539, and demonstrating finances and purpose of the extension. The Form I-539 form, instructions and fees can be found on the USCIS website.
  • The length of the visa does not equate to the length of stay. When visitors enter the U.S., their documents will be inspected by a U.S. border official. The officer will determine the amount of time the visitor will be permitted to remain in the U.S. Sometimes the officer will note how long someone may stay in the passport, but it can also be found on the I-94 website. The maximum period of admission for a regular B-2 visitor is six months, although less time may be granted by border officials.

View additional detailed information about the B-2 nonimmigrant visa.

Note: If your friend or relative is a citizen of a country in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), check the State Department’s website. A visa waiver visitor may not change status from within the U.S. under any circumstances.