Welcome! Many international students and scholars bring their spouse and children to the U.S. when they move here to study or work at UTEP. This can be an exciting opportunity for families to experience life in the U.S., learn or practice English skills, and spend time in the Sun City of El Paso, Texas! The information below may be helpful during your time in the U.S.
F-2 Dependents and Study
Prior to May 2015, F-2 visa holders (dependents of the F-1 student) were not allowed to study in the U.S. with the exception of children in kindergarten to twelfth grade. As of May 29, 2015, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has relaxed its prohibition on F-2 visa holders and their ability to study while in the U.S. In the past, F-2 visa holders of school age higher than High School (usually spouses) were not allowed to study during their time in the U.S. Study was limited to occasional, incidental study that did not lead to obtaining a degree; usually recreational studies or hobbies.
However, as of May 29, 2015, DHS is permitting F-2 nonimmigrant spouses and children to engage in study at an SEVP-certified school that does not amount to a full course of study. See link to Study in the States.
Full course of study is defined as 12 credit hours per semester for Undergraduate students and 9 credit hours per semester for Graduate students, or 18 clock hours for language training at UTEP’s English Language Institute. The F-2 nonimmigrants can still participate full-time in avocational or recreational study (i.e., hobbies and recreational studies).
To maintain valid F-2 status, however, the F-2 visa holder would not be permitted at any time to enroll in a total number of credit hours that would amount to a “full course of study,” as defined by regulation. If an F-2 nonimmigrant wants to enroll in a full course of academic study, he or she needs to apply for and obtain approval to change his or her nonimmigrant classification to F-1.
The Office of International Programs highly recommends that individuals retain personal copies of the information supplied for admission, visas, passports, entry, and benefit-related documents indefinitely. These will facilitate maintenance of F nonimmigrant status and processing of future applications for U.S. immigration benefits.
F-2 Dependents under the Age of 21
The rule does not change existing regulations allowing full-time study by children in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).
An F-2 child that is under the age of 21 and has arrived at the college or university level of study may continue on the F-2 visa and enroll in less than full time. However, once the child reaches the age of 21, they must apply for a change of status to F-1 or J-1 visa to maintain legal presence in the country and are then required to enroll full time. The same happens if the child wishes to enroll full time or apply for employment benefits tied to the F-1 visa.
F-2 Dependents and Work
Under no circumstance are F-2 visa holders allowed to work in the U.S. Volunteering is allowed. Click here for the definition of Volunteers as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
UTEP International Spouse & Partner Group
Get connected with other spouses and partners at UTEP, make friends, and share resources. Search Facebook for UTEP International Spouse & Partner Group
Schools for Children
The school year starts in August and ends in May. Texas state law requires that all children attend school (or a home study program) from age 6 to 18. Public kindergarten is available in every school system, but is not mandatory.
- Bassett Place
- Cielo Vista Mall (east side)
- Sunland Park Mall (west side)
- The Outlet Shoppes (west side)
Driver's License or State ID
An accompanying dependent who applies for a driver’s license or state ID should present supporting personal status documentation as well as status documentation of the primary visa holder. Information on a practical training period or cap-gap period reflects the duration of status.
The DMV will look for consistency between the dependent’s duration of status and that of the primary visa holder. Sometimes DMV offices have difficulty when verifying dependents. The best way to alleviate this problem is for all nonimmigrants in this position to do the following:
- Always go to the DMV office with the primary (F-1, M-1 or J-1) status holder
- Bring the following paperwork
- The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-94
- The primary and dependent’s valid passport with visa (when applicable)
- Proof of identity
- Proof of relationship (e.g., marriage certificate)
- The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (This is critical when the primary F-1 or M-1 is on OPT
Driver’s License Application Process (general process)
SEVP Fact Sheet 1103-02 Applying for a Driver’s License or State Identification Card
Motor Vehicle Titles & Registration
Below are two great resources for volunteer opportunities through UTEP and in the El Paso community. Also, if you have a skill that you think would be useful to a UTEP department; we suggest asking the department of interest if there are any opportunities for volunteering.
UTEP and Community News & Events: Things to do at UTEP and in El Paso!
English Language Resources
- UTEP English Language Institute
- EL Paso Community College, Intensive English Program (IEP)
- UTEP Student Health Center
- El Paso Children’s Hospital
- Las Palmas Medical Center
- Providence Memorial Hospital
- University Medical Center of El Paso
Urgent care clinics primarily treat injuries or illnesses requiring immediate attention but are not too serious that would require a visit to an emergency room. Urgent care clinics are open on a walk-in basis – 7 days of the week. Most are not open 24 hours a day as they have scheduled business hours.
International Food Stores
Arirang Market (Asian):
9728 Dyer St,
El Paso, TX 79924
Jerusalem International Foods (Middle Eastern):
5360 N Mesa St,
El Paso, TX 79912
Mercado Mayapan (Mexican):
El Paso, Texas 79901
RV International Grocery (Indian & Middle Eastern):
4700 N Mesa St,
El Paso, TX 79912
Wan Jia Le Supermarket (Asian):
9501 Gateway Blvd W. Ste A,
El Paso, Texas,
79925 (915) 594-9898