A thought crossed my mind when Dr. DePauw mentioned about partner accommodation and dual-career for people pursuing academic careers last Monday: Can there be some similar accommodations for the dependent spouses of international graduate students as well?
I have a friend who is an international PhD student and when she came to the US for her studies, her husband accompanied her as an F-2 dependent. For those of you who may not know, F-2 dependent visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows an international F-1 student to bring their spouse and child to the US. However, the dependents are not allowed to take up paid employment in the US. Now, my friend’s husband who already has a Master’s degree from a different country can not do anything besides staying at home or pursuing some hobbies/interests. The question is, how long can someone who has a higher level academic degree not do anything related to their education but be taking up hobbies? May be 6 months or a year max, but think about the 5 years of time before her wife will have graduated with her PhD degree. He could probably apply to be a student once again and change his visa status to F-1 as well, but what are the chances of him getting accepted and funded at the same University?
My friend is happy that she has her husband by her side who can provide her with all the care and emotional support during her tough life as a PhD student but she is also worried that he will have to pause his career for at least 5 years. Had there been any accommodations for her husband (some kind of on campus employment or opportunities for career/professional development ), he could also be productive and make the best use of his time until his wife graduates.