Students in valid J-1 status may request dependent DS-2019s for the following:

  • Married spouse
  • Unmarried child or children under the age of 21

J-1 Students may request a dependent DS-2019 at any point during their degree program or during Academic Training (AT).

Requesting a Dependent DS-2019

Cystart Request

This is an electronic process completed through Cystart. The link for Cystart can be found on the ISSO homepage. Log in to Cystart using ISU NetID and password. Once in Cystart, select J-1 Student Services and complete the Dependent DS-2019 e-form.

Required Documentation

  • Request for Dependent DS-2019: Student Request form
  • Documentation of relationship to dependent
    • For spouse: Marriage certificate, copy of both original and English translation
    • For child or children: Child's birth certificate, copy of both original and English translation
  • Copy of dependent's passport
  • Proof of financial support for next two semesters, or amount of time remaining in program of study
    • Financial support must cover tuition and living expenses for you plus living expenses and health insurance for all dependents. Refer to the Expense Worksheet to understand how much financial support is required.
    • ISSO accepts U.S. bank statements, international bank statements, Letter of Intents for graduate assistants, etc.
    • ISSO does not accept property statements, job offer letters, pay stabs, or 401K statements as proof of funding as funds must be readily available.
    • Financial documents more than 3 months old will not be accepted.
    • Consult with an International Student Advisor on other acceptable financial support documentation.


ISSO can take up to 10 working days to process the CyStart Dependent I-20 Request page and issue new J-1 and J-2 dependent I-20s.

Benefits and Limitations of J-2 Status

Health Insurance Requirement for J-2 Dependents

Immigration regulations require all J-2 dependents to have valid health insurance for the duration of their stay in the United States.  J-1 students are required to update the ISU Student and Scholar Health Insurance Program (isusship@iastate.edu) so that their J-2 dependents are added to their health insurance. Additional information on health insurance is listed on the ISU Health Insurance page. 

Enrollment for J-2 Spouse 

A J-2 dependent may engage in full-time or part-time enrollment. Classes may be recreational or degree-seeking. ISSO recommends the J-2 spouse meet with an ISSO advisor before any enrollment.

Iowa State Spouse Tuition Rate

Spouses of students with a graduate assistantship at Iowa State are assessed tuition at the resident rate.  Please contact the Registrar's Office for the spousal tuition benefit. 

Enrollment for J-2 Child

A J-2 child may enroll full time in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade).

J-2 Employment

A J-2 dependent can apply to USCIS for work authorization, or J-2 Work Permission. Once they have received a valid Employment Authorization Document, they may legally work in the U.S. for any employer. J-2 dependent work authorization is only valid for one year, and dependents wishing to continue employment must reapply. To learn more about this, review the J-2 Work Permission. ISSO recommends dependents meet with an advisor before applying for J-2 Work Permission.

Aging Out of J-2 Status

An J-2 child will lose their J-2 status on their 21st birthday. Before "aging out," an J-2 child must take action to continue to stay in the U.S., if desired. Read in more detail on Change of Status

Social Opportunities in Ames

Check out additional J-2 Dependent Resources or see the Get Involved page for information on various events and opportunities.

Other Considerations

Financial Readiness

Students are encouraged to plan a budget to see if they will have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family. Budgetary considerations include: high daycare costs, housing and food increases, phone bill increases, and required health insurance for dependents.

Social Constraints

Students should also consider how much time they will spend away from their dependent(s) either on campus, in their office, and/or in their lab. Other possible considerations include English proficiency and whether dependents will be able to find social connections. 

Reporting to ISSO

Students should report to ISSO in the following circumstances: 

  • Dependents have permanently departured the U.S. 
  • Dependents have changed their non-immigrant status 
  • Marital changes such as divorce
Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.