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J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization

J-2 dependents may apply for employment authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provided that such employment does not support the basic expenses of the principal J-1 exchange visitor. The U.S. Department of State requires a J-1 exchange visitor to provide proof of adequate financial support before Form DS-2019 can be issued; J-2 employment authorization therefore cannot be for economic necessity.

Employment Authorization

USCIS generally authorizes employment for the duration of the principal J-1 exchange visitor's program or for a period of one year, whichever is less. A J-2 dependent may apply for employment authorization each year until the J-1 exchange visitor's program expires. The J-1 program expires on the program end date listed on Form DS-2019.

Employment Authorization Document

If the application for employment authorization is approved, USCIS will issue the J-2 dependent an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which may be presented to an employer as proof of eligibility to work in the United States. The EAD is a laminated identification card with the dependent's photograph and start and end dates of the authorized employment period.

Restrictions on Employment

The EAD authorizes a J-2 dependent to work full- or part-time for any employer during the authorized employment period. A J-2 dependent may work in any position except as a medical practitioner, regardless of any licensure he or she may hold.

Application Process

To apply for employment authorization, the J-2 dependent must submit an application to USCIS. Applications generally take three months to be processed. USCIS will send a receipt notice about three weeks after the application has been received, which will include an application number that can be used to track the application's process online through the USCIS Case Status system.

J-2 dependents may meet with an advisor in our office to review applications for employment authorization before submitting them to USCIS. Advisors are available to meet with scholars and their dependents during regular walk-in hours.

Application Materials

The following documents are required as part of the application for employment authorization:

  • Photocopy of the J-1 exchange visitor's Form DS-2019
  • Photocopy of the J-1 exchange visitor's I-94 arrival/departure form
  • Photocopy of the J-2 dependent's Form DS-2019
  • Photocopy of the J-2 dependent's passport ID page
  • Photocopy of the J-2 dependent's I-94 arrival/departure form
  • Check for $380 made payable to the Department of Homeland Security
  • Two passport-style photographs of the J-2 dependent
  • Letter written by the J-2 dependent and addressed to USCIS which states (1) Why the employment is desired; (2) the J-1 has adequate funds to cover living and school expenses; (3) that money earned will not be used to support the J-1 scholar. (The employment may be desired to provide income for extra expenses such as travel, for the J-2 to gain work experience, etc...)

When completing Form I-765, a permanent mailing address should be entered as the J-2 dependent's home address. USCIS will not forward material to a new address if the dependent moves while the application is in process. The complete application should be submitted to USCIS for processing using certified mail with a return receipt. Form I-765 may also be submitted electronically through the USCIS e-filing system; supporting documentation must still be submitted by mail.

Applications and supporting documentation should be submitted to:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

** Addresses current as of 7/14/2014. Check USCIS website for changes. **


ISSS staff are not permitted to advise students, scholars, or their families on tax matters. For more information about U.S. taxes, visit the Taxes section of our website or contact a tax professional.

Social Security Number

A J-2 dependent may apply for a Social Security number at a Social Security Administration office after receiving an EAD from USCIS. The J-2 dependent must present his or her Form DS-2019, passport, I-94, and EAD at the time of application. A Social Security number is normally issued within 10 - 12 days of submitting an application.