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Who is eligible for dependent status?

A spouse (husband or wife) or unmarried children under the age of 21 can be admitted in dependent status to accompany the scholar to the United States. The most common examples of these statuses are J-2 and H-4.

Adding Dependents

J-2 Dependents

  • It is possible for J-1 scholars to request dependent status for spouses/children after arriving in the U.S.  Requests to add dependents should be initiated via the iSTART system. After logging in, scholars should select the “Add Dependent” e-form found under “J-1 Scholar Services”.
  • J-1 scholars must demonstrate adequate funding for each dependent for the remaining duration of the program – not just for the time the dependents plan to be in the United States. Funding documentation may be required in order to add dependents. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign requires the following amounts for dependents:
    • $600 per month for the first dependent
    • $300 per month for each additional dependent
  • After reviewing an application to add dependents, ISSS will issue the dependents DS-2019s.  Normal processing time is two weeks for these requests. 
  • J-2 dependents will be subject to the two-year home residence requirement (212e) if the J-1 scholar is subject. Click here for more information about the two year home residence requirement.
  • J-2 entry visas will only be issued or renewed by the Department of State if the J-1 entry visa has not expired.

H-4 Dependents

  • Dependents who are in the United States can request a change of status to H-4 by filing form I-539 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Dependents who are outside the United States can apply for an H-4 entry visa and enter the United States in H-4 status.

Work & Study

J-2 Dependents can study and work (part-time or full-time). J-2 dependents may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for work authorization. J-2 Work Permission Instructions can be found here.  

H-4 dependents can study (part-time or full-time), but they generally cannot work. The H-4 spouse may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services if the H-1B spouse is either the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) or they have been granted an extension of their authorized period of admission in the United States beyond six years under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21).

Social Security Number

Dependents can only apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if they have a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  

If a dependent is required to have a United States taxpayer identification number but does not have, and is not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number from the Social Security Administration, they will be issued an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). ITIN’s are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. For more information, please visit the Internal Revenue Service website.

Schools & Childcare


  • State of Illinois law requires all children between the ages of 6 and 16 to attend school. Public school is free; private school is not. Children will need a physical and dental examination before entering school. Visitors who will enroll their children in school should plan to bring immunization records, birth certificates, and some indication of the level of school completed to the United States.
  • Schools are generally divided into three levels: elementary (Kindergarten through fifth grade); middle school (sixth through eighth grade) and high school (ninth through twelfth grade).
  • Elementary school-age children living in Orchard Downs (Family Housing) are assigned to the Martin Luther King School in Urbana. Transportation is provided. King School provides a multi-cultural, multi-lingual program. More information about Champaign and Urbana schools is available at the websites below.

Immunization Records

  • International scholars and employees are not required to provide immunization records to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  However, immunization records will be required to enroll children in school.

Day Care Centers & Preschools

  • The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Child Development Laboratory has half-day programs for children who are 4-years-old and full-day programs available for children 6 weeks to 4 years of age. Applications can be obtained at 1105 W. Nevada, Urbana or online at The phone number for the Child Development Laboratory is 217-333-2550.
  • University Primary School is available for children from 3-years-old through third grade. It is located in the Children’s Research Center, 51 Gerty Drive, Champaign.
  • There are many private preschools and daycare centers in Champaign-Urbana for children under 6 years of age. You will find them listed under “Child Care” and “Schools” in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. The university’s Child Care Resource Service, 217-333-3252, can help answer your questions about child care and offer updated information about childcare options available in Champaign-Urbana. The Child Care Resource Service’s website is

Other Resources