Dependent Visas

The spouse and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of the student or scholar coming to Harvard are eligible for "dependent" visa status. To obtain dependent visa status, the international student or scholar must request a dependent visa document from the Harvard International Office. It is often necessary for the family to show that they have additional financial resources to support themselves while living in the U.S. For a basic description of the different dependent visas, click the appropriate visa type below.

F Student Dependents J Student or J Scholar
H Temporary Worker
O Extraordinary Ability
TN Trade Agreement
E-3 Trade Agreement

When applying for a visa and first coming to the United States, a dependent may be asked for evidence of the relationship to the Harvard student or scholar (such as marriage certificate and/or birth certificate). If your spouse and/or children will accompany you to the University, we suggest that you bring certified copies of your marriage certificate and birth certificate(s), if applicable, with English translation, to the U.S. This is especially important if you will be paid by Harvard and may be eligible for employee benefits. These documents may be needed in order to enroll your dependents to receive benefits such as health insurance.

Unmarried Partners

Unmarried partners (opposite or same sex) are not eligible for dependent visas. To compensate for this policy, the U.S. government provides discretion for U.S. consular officials to grant B-2 tourist visas for partners not eligible for a dependent visa. The U.S. Department of State citation on this policy is located in section 9 FAM 402.2 Cohabitating Partners, Extended Family Members, and Other Household Members not Eligible for Derivative Status of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual.  Additional background information on the citation is also available.

The Visa Waiver Program for citizens of certain countries is not included in this policy. Those entering under the visa waiver program must depart the United States within 90 days of arrival. Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program will need pre-clearance authorization called ESTA prior to traveling. Visitors are responsible for presenting evidence of ESTA approval at the port of entry to the United States. Please be sure to print out the approval when applying for ESTA.

When applying for a B-2 visa based on cohabitation, the partner applying should have documentation verifying the long-term nature of the relationship. Such documentation might include:

  • Marriage certificate or registered domestic partnership agreement
  • A statement from the principal partner coming to Harvard verifying the long-term nature of the cohabitating relationship
  • A copy of the U.S. immigration document for the principal partner coming to Harvard University
  • Any other type of documentation that supports the spousal nature of the relationship

Presentation of this documentation to a U.S. consular officer does not guarantee the issuance of a B-2 status on the basis of a cohabitating partnership. Please be advised that B-2 visa holders are not eligible for a Massachusetts state driver’s license or identification document. Additionally, B-2 visa holders may not qualify for certain types of health insurance. Please consider carefully all of your possible immigration options prior to applying for a B-2 visa to accompany a partner to the U.S.

Unmarried partners may be eligible for certain benefits offered by employers, local governments and agencies if the couple has registered their partnership. Both Boston and Cambridge offer partner registration services.