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Student Visa for Minor Children Kindergarten through Grade 12 and options for Parents

Picture of a Visa Passport

F1 student visa for minor children is available to allow attendance at a private Kindergarten through Highschool institute in the U.S.  The child must attend private school that is SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified. If the child is going to attend high school then a public high school can be attended but only for a maximum period of 12 months. So essentially any minor children (under 21) who wish to obtain F1 Student Visa for Minor Children to attend kindergarten through high school will need to be enrolled in a private school that is SEVP certified.

Generally, an F1 Student Visa holder can be accompanied by their children and spouse but not their parents. When the F1 student visa holder is a minor then the issue of whether the parents can also obtain some type of visa to live in the U.S. with the children will need to be addressed. Essentially, the parents’ option is to obtain a B2 visitor visa that will need to be extended every 6 months.

But if the parent is the one who wishes to attend school in the U.S. and obtain an F1 student visa then the spouse and children can obtain F2 dependent visas to live in the U.S. as dependents of the F1 Visa holder. The F2 dependent minor children are allowed to attend public elementary, middle, and high school. The F2 spouse or child over the age of 21 can attend college and beyond but only as a part-time student.

The F1 student may work part-time on campus but the F2 dependent cannot work in the U.S.

You will also need to show evidence of financial resources sufficient to pay for the F1 visa holders school fees and costs of  living in the United States. This may include bank statements, pay stubs, affidavits of support, and family savings in your home country.

First step, apply to a SEVP Certified School and obtain a Form I-20

You must apply for and be admitted at a school that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified to accept international students. Children who are on F1 student visa for minor children must attend private kindergarten through high school K-12. You can search for SEVP citification online to determine if a school is SEVP certified.

If the child is accepted at the private school then the school will issue a Form I-20“Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status from the private school. The private school will have one or more designate school official (DSO) who will help and guide through this process.

Second step, pay your SEVIS I-901 Fee

After you have received Form I-20 then you must pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee online. You will need information from the Form I-20 to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. You must save you SEVIS fee payment receipt for the filing of the student visa for minor children at the embassy.

Third step, apply for a Student Visa at an Embassy 

After you have been admitted to a school and have obtained Form I-120 and paid the I-901 SEVIS fee then you can apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy by filing a nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160 online for Student Visa for Minor Children. Generally, this step is the longer and involved process and requires:

1. File the student visa application online at Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) and save your DS-160 confirmation page, upload passport style photos.

2. Create a profile and pay the Visa (MRV) fee of $185 online and save your payment receipt.

3. Schedule a Student Visa for Minor Children visa interview at the embassy online with the same account that was used to pay the $185 visa fee. You can check the appointment wait time online. Student visa interview wait times for Budapest is about 30 days. These estimates change routinely check the online wait time page at the time of filing to get most up to date estimate.

4. Gather supporting documents such as passports, birth certificate, marriage certificate, Form I-20, I-901 payment receipt, DS-160 Visa Confirmation page for Student Visa for Minor Children, DS-160 fee payment receipt, passport style photos, interview notice, financial documents demonstrating ability to pay for school and living expenses.

5. Attend your Student Visa for Minor Children interview at the embassy and take all your documents above with you. You may be given a verbal approval at the interview or you may be told that a decision will be made in the next 1-2 weeks or longer. You can check your visa status online.

6. Arrive to the United 30 days before start of your school year.

7. Save your admission stamp from your passport and save a copy of the electronic Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record.

Change of status to student F1 while present in the U.S. on a Visitor Visa 

1. Complete Step One (Form I-20)

2. Complete Step Two (pay I-901 SEVIS fee)

3. File for Change of Status Form I-539 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Option for Parents of F1 student visa is B2 Visitor Visa 

There is no derivative dependent visa available for parents of F1 Student Visa for Minor Children. F1 student visa holder’s spouse and children can apply for F2 dependent visa. The only viable option for parents and household members of minor F1 students is to file for B2 Visitor Visa. Visitor visas only allow the holder to stay up to 180 days in the U.S. but the parents may be able to stay in the U.S. for the same period as the minor F1 student.

The steps and websites for filing for B2 visitor visa are the same as above in Step 3. After the B2 Visa has been issued at the time of arriving to the U.S. at the port of entry the parent should request for a supervisor and ask to be admitted for an initial period of one years.  The visa entry stamp should note that the parent has been admitted for up to one year instead of the standard 6 months for B2 visitor. But the parent will have to continue to file for extensions after the initial period of admission every six months in increments of six months.

The other option if available is the parent to be the F1 Student Visa Holder and pursue an undergrad or post graduate study program and obtain F2 visas for the minor children who can then attend public schools.

You can read more on immigration topics such as:

Understanding the United States Immigration

Questions to ask an Immigration Lawyer

Form I-539 Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status

This process can be complicated and confusing. You should consult an experienced immigration attorney for help you file for a F1 Student Visa for minor children and B2 visa for the parents.