New Rule Allows F-2 and M-2 Spouses and Children to Engage in Part-time, Post-secondary Academic Study at SEVP-certified Schools


Today the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“ICE-SEVP”) published a Final Rule amending the regulations regarding who can study while in the U.S.

Under the Final Rule, F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children may engage in part-time (e.g., less than 12 credit hours), post-secondary academic study in the United States at SEVP-certified schools.  If an F-2 or M-2 nonimmigrant wants to enroll in a full course of academic study (e.g., 12 or more credit hours), he or she needs to first apply for and obtain F-1, J-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status.  The Final Rule also clarifies that F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children may engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature, up to and including on a full-time basis.

The Final Rule does not change existing regulations allowing full-time study, including any full course of study, by F-2 and M-2 children in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).  F-2 and M-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children are still not eligible for employment authorization, even if offered through a part-time academic program; and may not engage in post-secondary academic study through online courses/distance education programs, even if offered at a SEVP-certified school.  The Final Rule is scheduled to go into effect 30 days from the date of publication.

For questions please contact your Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP attorney today.

This post originally appeared on Wolfsdorf Connect. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq. Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq. is an associate at the firm's Santa Monica office. Mr. Shepherd provides U.S. immigration counsel to employers, institutions, investors, individuals, and families regarding all U.S. immigration law matters. He was recently appointed to serve on the AILA National LGBT Immigration Issues Working Group. Mr. Shepherd has authored numerous articles published by AILA and Bender's Immigration Bulletin, including in such distinguished AILA publications as Immigration Options for Artists & Entertainers, 2nd Ed. and the Inside Immigration Monograph Series. Mr. Shepherd is licensed in Massachusetts and practices exclusively in immigration and nationality law. Mr. Shepherd may be contacted at