Bringing Family

Colorado State University has welcomed international students and scholars for more than one hundred years. Currently, more than 2,300 international students and scholars from over 90 countries study and work here in Fort Collins. Many of our students and scholars bring their spouses and families to be a part of the Colorado State University community. Currently we have more than 300 family members accompanying our international students and scholars.

The Office of International Programs (OIP) understands that the success of our international students and scholars is often dependent upon the happiness of their families. We try, along with other various departments on campus, to provide services and programs to assist our international spouses and families with their transition to life in the U.S. Because of the abundant resources and family housing, we hope you will find Colorado State University your school of choice for both your academic experience and your family life. In addition, the city of Fort Collins offers a lot of family-oriented activities that makes it one of the best places to live in the United States, according to Money Magazine.


To qualify for F-2, J-2, H-4, O-3, E-3, or TD dependent status, a spouse or unmarried minor child (under age 21) must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer and the immigration officer at the Port of Entry that:

  • They are the spouse (marriage license) or child (birth certificate or adoption record) of the principal F-1, J-1, H-1B, O-1, E-3 or TN holder
  • They have sufficient funds to cover their additional expenses, or that other arrangements have been made to provide for such expenses once in the United States
  • They intend to leave the United States upon the termination of the status of the principal visa holder
  • F-2 Only – If the F-2 dependents are joining the F-1 student at a later date: “the F-1 student is enrolled in a full course of study or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies.”

Things to Know:

  • Living Expenses may increase by 50% or more, since you will likely pay higher rent than single students, purchase additional bus passes, more food, pay for child care, etc. Make sure that you include enough financial support in your financial documents in order to cover the cost of dependents. You can view our Estimated Expenses chart for more information.
  • Spouse Transitions are difficult because you will likely spend far more time on campus with your classes, homework, research and work than you will at home. This can leave a spouse feeling lonely and neglected. It is often a difficult transition for a spouse who has been working professionally since most dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S. Since you will be meeting new people in your classes, at your work, etc, it may be difficult to help your spouse feel connected.
  • Employment
    • F-2 Dependents: your F-2 dependents may not work nor apply for work permission under any circumstances.
    • J-2 Dependents: may apply for work permission from the USCIS only if the income earned is to be used for support of the spouse or children, not for support of the J-1 student or scholar.
    • H-4 Dependents: may not work unless the H-1B principal is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 immigrant petition and the H-4 has an approved employment authorization document (EAD card).
    • O-3 Dependents:may not work nor apply for work permission.
    • E-3 Dependents: dependent spouses may apply for work permission from USCIS.
    • TD Dependents: may not work nor apply for work permission.
  • Study
    • F-2 Dependents: Spouses may enroll in part-time classes and children may only be enrolled full-time in a K-12 education program. This is a great way to get family members involved and engaged–consider language classes, cooking classes, or another topic of interest. Make sure to speak with an International Advisor before your spouse enrolls in any coursework.
    • J-2, H-4, O-3, E-3 and TD Dependents: There are no study restrictions.