F-1 is a full-time student visa that allows international students to pursue education in the US. An F-1 student is required to maintain full time student status by being registered for the full course load during a semester. This may be either 8 or 9 credit hours depending on the university. F-1 students may work for a maximum of 20 hours a week on campus, however, they are not permitted to work outside the university without prior authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS may grant work authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) which allow for work outside the university in the area of the student’s field of study. The F-1 visa is usually granted for the entire duration of the program as specified in the I-20, or may be slightly longer.
The F2 visa is a non-immigrant visa and would be applied for the spouse and minor children of the F-1 visa holder. An F2 dependent visa holder can stay in the US as long as the principal applicant holds F1 status. F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work in the US under any circumstances. Dependents on an F-2 visa may study full time in an elementary or secondary school. Higher level study is restricted to vocational or recreational programs.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the US temporarily. The purpose of the H-1B visa is to give US employers the opportunity to hire foreign professionals if a U.S. citizen or resident with similar credentials and ability is not available for the job.
Similarly, H1B dependents can stay in the US as per active H1 duration status of principal applicant holding valid work permit. They are not entitled to full time work or study in the US on a dependent visa.