Obtaining Visa Documents for Dependents (F/J Students and Scholars)

Do you want your spouse or child(ren) to join you while you attend Columbia? Learn how to obtain a dependent COE (F-2 student form I-20 or J-2 student or scholar form DS-2019) that they will need to apply for a visa.


Basic Information about F-2/J-2 Dependents:

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Before You Apply

Your partner is not eligible to be a visa dependent, but may apply for a B-2 visitor visa to join you under a provision for Cohabitating Partners described in the Foreign Affairs Manual for visa officers. Look for 9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(5).

If they will visit you only for a temporary period of time, they should request a tourist visa directly from the United States Consulate.

you will apply for their COEs at the same time as you apply for your own. Follow the instructions at Applying for an I-20/DS-2019.

be sure to provide your dependents' information to your department when they are requesting a DS-2019 for you. All J-1/J-2 forms will be created at the same time.

They will need to either:

  • leave the U.S., obtain an J-2 visa at a U..S. embassy or consulate (unless Canadian), and re-enter the U.S. in J-2 status. Obtaining J-2 status through travel is recommended.
  • apply for a change of status from USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services). A change of status application is not recommended because it takes a long time to be processed and maintaining status while the application is pending can be problematic. 
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How to Apply for a Dependent COE (Certificate of Eligibility) If You Are a Student or J-1 Scholar Currently at Columbia

How to obtain a dependent COE for students
Step 1.

Gather your documents and information


Log in to Compass with your UNI and password to submit your application

Please click the appropriate link below:

Not sure of your campus? Check our campus school list.
Need help using Compass? Learn more on our Compass User Guide.

Step 3.

We will contact you

Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. 

  • F-1: When your request is approved, we will email both your digital F-1 Form I-20 and your dependent’s F-2 Form I-20 for you to print with additional instructions. 
  • J-1: When your request is approved, we will email both your digital J-1 Form DS-2019 and your dependent’s J-2 Form DS0219 for you to print with additional instructions.
Step 4.

Send the I-20/DS-2019 to your spouse

They will need the COE to apply for an F-2 or J-2 visa application at a U.S. consulate and to enter the U.S. 
**Note that visa dependents do not pay a SEVIS fee.

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