Studying in the US with Child

Studying in the US with Child

The United States is on top of the most favored countries to pursue a degree, for international students. Surely, the large variety of attractions, the culture, historical personalities – all play a part in making America what it is; but its educational system makes this country even greater. Students from all around the globe are interested in pursuing a degree in the U.S. Studying in the U.S. with a child, as a foreigner in a great country, might be prone to challenges, however, with the right instruction and time-management skills – everything is possible.

Firstly, if you have already been accepted by a U.S. institution of higher education certified by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), and are thinking of residing temporarily in the U.S. with your child, there are some things you should know. See below for the information you need to know on how to obtain a student visa, how to get your child with you to the US, and still successfully finish your studies.

How to Get a Student Visa?

Initially, your course of study and school you plan to attend, determine what type of student visa you need, an F visa or an M visa.

You’re entering the U.S. to attend: The visa category required:
University or college F
Seminary F
Conservatory F
Another academic institution, including a language training program F  
Vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program M

How to Apply for a Student Visa?

Applying for a visa requires going through several steps. However, the order of the steps and their completion depend by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In order to complete the online nonimmigrant visa application, Form DS-160, you should:

  • Complete the online visa application.
  • Print the application and take it with you to the interview.
  • Upload your photo while filling in the online Form DS-160, the photo should meet the format requirements.
  • Generally, for those younger than 13 and older than 80, interviews are not required. However, consular officers may require an interview of any applicant.
  • Schedule the appointment of the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country that you live in.
  • Pay the non-refundable visa application fee.

Which are the Required Documents?

The required documents that you need to apply for your visa, are:

  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S.
  • The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • The payment receipt for the application fee.
  • Photo according to the photograph requirements.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20.
  • Academic documents such as diplomas, degrees, or transcripts may be required.
  • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school.
  • Proof that you will return to your home country upon completion of your degree.
  • Details on how you will pay for your education, living, and travel costs.

Can I Bring my Child to the US While I Study?

F-1 and M-1 students can be eligible to bring their children and/or spouse to live with them while they study in the United States. The children should be unmarried and under the age of 21. You should first notify your designated school official that you would like to bring dependents to the United States and submit the required identifying information. The designated school official (DSO) will send you a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status” for each family member. Afterwards, the child/spouse should apply for an F-2 or M-2 visa from the U.S. Department of State.

Your child will remain in F-2 or M-2 immigration status for as much time as you keep your status throughout your program of study. If there are any changes to your status then it will affect their status as well.

There are certain criteria the child (dependent) must follow, in the United States:

  • They can depart and re-enter the U.S. with the proper documentation.
  • They may not work and are not eligible for social security numbers.
  • They can engage in study at an SEVP-certified school, but they should be enrolled in less than a full course of study.
  • They can study full-time in a primary or secondary school in order to meet the education requirements for minors in the state they live in.
  • They should get an updated Form I-20 from the DSO in case there are any changes to Form I-20 information for the F-1 or M-1.

Can my Child Go to School While in the US with me?

The child can study full-time in a primary and secondary school in the U.S. in order to meet the education requirements for minors in the state they live in, but they can not attend a college or university. See below for more information:

If your visa status is:   Your child may come to the U.S. in dependent visa status: Your child may attend K-12 school: Your child may attend college or university: Your child may change status to F-1, M-1, or J-1:
F1 – Academic Student F2 Yes No Yes
M1 – Vocational or Language Student M2 Yes No Yes

A child, however, is not allowed to extend his/her stay in order to finish a school year or program. They should apply for their own visa status after turning 21.

Children in F-2/M-2 status can attend K-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) school; nevertheless, they may not study at post-secondary level, except if they want to take recreational classes. In order to attend the post-secondary school, full-time, the child must change the status to F-1, M-1, or J-1. The school they attend should be SEVP-certified.

What’s it Like to Study While Parenting?

Studying in the U.S. with a child is a challenge in the sense that it requires more time-management skills and perfect planning. However, it is something that can easily be done, since many parents have already done it. Moreover, what might come as a potential challenge is the fact that you will be in a foreign country, taking care of your studies, your child, and getting accustomed to the new life as well. But, with the perfect planning, you will be able to succeed! Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Plan ahead and stick to your plans.
  • Work on your time management skills.
  • Set time aside for quality time with your child.
  • Give yourself some ‘me-time’ once in a while, so you can rest as well.
  • Include your child while you’re studying by engaging them in reading, writing, or drawing.