Resources for Dependents (Spouse/Children)

Resources Overview

Watch this short video for a resources overview.



J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for employment authorization with the U.S.immigration agency (USCIS). They can apply for work authorization only after you (the J-1) has entered the U.S, and may not start to work until the approval is received. Learn more about the J-2 application for work permission.

F-2 dependents are not permitted to work in the U.S. in F-2 status.

Social Security Numbers (SSNs)

Social Security Numbers are issued only to those who have authorized employment in the United States.

Individuals in F-2 or J-2 status who are not eligible for an SSN may apply for an Individual Taxpayer ID (ITIN) if needed for filing a tax return.


For F-2, J-2, H-4, O-3, E-3D, and TD status:

English Language Programs

English as a Second Language programs, more commonly known as ESL programs, are widely available in the city:

American Language Program (ALP)

These classes are held at Columbia. 

Community Language Program (CLP)

These classes are held at Teachers College. This program is taught by Teachers College students who are ESL teachers in training.

Chazen Language Program

This program offers eight-week courses taught by professional instructors in small class sizes. It is held at Columbia Business School's Chazen Institute for Global Business.

NY Public Libraries

The libraries offer free English classes in the Summer and Fall.

Community Involvement/Volunteer Work

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One to World

helps international students, scholars, and their families in the New York area make use of the cultural, ethnic, and professional resources of the city. Participate in their various activities, including tours throughout New York and visits with American families. Better yet, volunteer for them!

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Community Impact

is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to serving individuals of all ages in need in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities. It partners with more than 100 community organizations and agencies.

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New York Cares

Volunteer for just a day or throughout your time here! A great resource for a large variety of opportunities.

Family Support

Columbia University’s Office of Work/Life

It’s not easy to balance the demands of academic, work, and personal lives--especially in a fast-paced city like NY. Coming from another country adds to the challenge, so see how this office can help!

Breastfeeding Support

Columbia University offers an array of resources to help support parents and is committed to ensuring that the needs of lactating women are met. The Breastfeeding Support Program is available for mothers at Columbia returning to work, school, or visiting the campus who wish to express milk.

Child Care and Schools

Child Care and Schooling

Columbia's Office of Work-/Life offers information and programs to support parents with Child Care and Schooling Needs.

The School and Child Care Search Service

supports parents at Columbia University through school placement counseling, child care referrals, a searchable database of New York City area schools, and informational resources for finding childcare and schooling.


is an extremely helpful independent guide to NYC public schools that provides practical tools to navigate the city’s school system. Under each type of school (elementary, middle, and high) there is a section called New to NYC? which is a great place for you to start.

NYC Department of Education

 is the largest school district in the US, serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. You can read their valuable information in 83 different languages!

The Day Care Council of New York

is a diverse membership organization of childcare and family service providers, consumers and advocates.

Morningside Playcare

provides Mandarin Immersion program for children ages 6 months to 10 years of age through play, creative activities, and exploration of their environment.


Columbia University libraries.

You may use Columbia University libraries with some restrictions. Your library card allows you to read in the libraries but not borrow books. See details of library access for spouses.

NYC public libraries.

You may also use the NYC public libraries. Get a library card and borrow books and DVDs--it’s free! Enjoy community programming, including lecture and film series of general interest for adults as well as English and computer classes.

Gym Membership

To gain access to Columbia's Dodge Fitness Center, your dependent will need to provide documentation that has both your name and your spouse’s name and address on it, such as a lease or bank statement, and documents reflecting the F-2 or J-2 immigration status. See the family section of Dodge's eligibility page for more information.