A J-2 visa holder is in the U.S. as a dependent of the J-1 Exchange Visitor. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) allows J-2 visa holders to apply for employment authorization. Employment is only authorized if the employment is not necessary for the financial support of the principal (J-1) visa holder. The reason for the J-2's employment should be some worthwhile interest or activity that might include maintaining oneself in his/her own profession, family travel, or other recreational or cultural activities.
Eligibility for J-2 Employment
- The J-2 visa holder must be in valid J-2 status and the Exchange Visitor must hold valid J-1 status as shown on the I-94 Departure Record cards (small white cards received upon entry to the U.S.).
- The income of the J-2 visa holder may not be used as the primary financial support of the J-1 visa holder.
J-2 Employment Application Procedure
Mail the following documents in the order indicated to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- Form I-765 requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
- $410 check or money order payable to "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services."
- A written statement, with any supporting evidence, confirming that the J-1 Exchange Visitor has sufficient financial resources for his/her own expenses and will not depend on J-2's earnings. The statement must also confirm that the J-2's employment is not necessary to support the J-1, but is for other purposes, e.g. to maintain J-2 in profession, to keep from being bored, etc. The J-2's letter should indicate reasons for wanting to work.
- Copies of all current and past DS-2019 forms for the J-1 and the J-2.
- Two photos of the J-2 prepared according to USCIS specifications. Lightly print J-2's name in pencil on the back. More detailed instructions are available to be downloaded from the USCIS website.
- A copy (front and back) of the Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record (white card in passport received from US customs). If you were not issued an I-94 card, submit a copy of your entry stamp and an online printout of your I-94 card number.
- A copy of any EAD cards issued previously to J-2.
- A copy of visa stamp from J-2's passport.
- A copy of identity page from J-2's passport.
- Marriage certificate (if spouse of the J-1) or birth certificate (if child of the J-1). Non-English documents should include an English translation.
- E-Notification: To receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your application has been accepted at USCIS, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.
For an extension/renewal of a work permit (which takes 3-5 months), include all of the above items and a photocopy of your previous EAD card(s). Please note that you cannot file more than 120 days before your original employment authorization expires.
You will receive a "Notice of Action" receipt notice from the USCIS, usually within 2-6 weeks. This is an important document that can help track the status of your application. You may use the receipt number to check the status of your case online. To check the status of your case, please visit the USCIS web site's Case State Service Online.
The J-2 visa holder may apply for employment authorization any time after arrival in the U.S. It can take several months to obtain the authorization, so the J-2 may wish to apply early. The J-2 work authorization will be valid only for as long as the J-1 exchange visitor's stay is valid. For the most recent filing address, please see the USCIS website.
Some important reminders
- Please review the instructions for submitting Form I-765 on the USICS website for the most up-to-date information.
- It is very important to keep photocopies of everything sent to the USCIS.
- The address written on the I-765 application should be valid for the next 3-4 months. If the J-2 moves, the US Postal Service will not forward mail from USCIS. If the current address is not going to be valid for the next 3-4 months, talk to an International Student and Scholar Adviser before mailing the application.
- The J-2 is also required to file an "Information Statement" along with the 1040NR for tax purposes. These forms should be mailed to the Internal Revenue Service, Philadelphia, PA 19255. See IRS Publication 519, "U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens," for more information.
J-2 Social Security Number and Card
Employers need a social security number to put the J-2 on their payroll. Take the following documents along when applying for a social security number and card:
- I-94 Arrival-Departure Record (white card in passport received from U.S. customs)
- Current J-2 DS-2019 form
- Current J-1 DS-2019 form
Applications for social security numbers and cards must be made in person. The Eugene office is located at the following address:
Social Security Administration
300 Ala Moana Blvd
Fed Bldg, Rm 1-114
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Hours:Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
J-2 Employment and Taxation Issues
If the J-2 is granted permission to work, he/she will receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or I-688. The EAD is an identification card laminated in plastic, with the J-2's photograph and the expiration date of the work authorization.
USCIS can authorize J-2 employment for as long as the J-1 Exchange Visitor has permission to stay OR for four years, whichever is shorter. Permission to stay expires on the date of the Form DS-2019.
Form I-9 (Employers distribute I-9 forms to new employees): When the J-2 begins to work, the employer will ask the J-2 to complete the USCIS Form I-9, required of all new employees. The purpose of this form is to prove identity and eligibility to be employed. The EAD card is acceptable proof of both identity and legal permission to work.