J-2 Dependent Employment

J-2 work permits are obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) through an application process that takes an average of 3 months to process.  Employment may not begin until the J-2 has received the work permit, called the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 

Who is eligible to apply?
J-2 dependents may apply for permission to accept employment, provided the income from such employment will be used solely for the benefit of the dependent(s). The earnings may be used for such activities as recreation, cultural enrichment, travel, education, or any other purpose NOT related to the needs of the principal J-1 visitor. Employment will not be authorized by USCIS if this income is needed to support the J-1 visitor. [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)].

In addition to having the appropriate intent for application, the following additional requirements must be met:

  • The J-1 visitor must be maintaining a legal status at the time of the application. This includes having an unexpired passport, and an I-94 card which is marked as D/S or with a date of expiry in the future.
  • The J-1 visitor must also be pursuing the objective for which s/he was admitted (i.e. full-time enrollment, research, etc.).
  • The J-2 dependent must have an unexpired passport, an I-94 card which is marked as D/S or with a date of expiry in the future, and not be or have been engaged in any unauthorized employment while in the United States.

What is the maximum time period that I will be allowed to work?
J-2 dependents with employment authorization may work until the date on the EAD card or until the J-1 principal visitor completes his or her program, whichever is earlier.  J-2 dependents may apply to renew work authorization, as long as the J-1 visitor remains in status.  If the J-1 receives extends his/her program, the J-2 dependent must re-apply for work authorization once the extension has been granted.

How do I apply?

What documents will I need? 
Be sure to check the USCIS website, for the most recent information, as it can change!

  • 2 U.S. Passport Photos see page 8 of the Form I-765 for photo specifications https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • Check or Money Order made payable to: “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” *check the website for “filing fee” https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 and https://www.uscis.gov/forms/paying-immigration-fees
  • Form G-1145 (Optional) to confirm receipt and obtain case number in advance of paper notification: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/g-1145.pdf
  • Original form I-765: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • J-2 Work Permission Letter (Ask the UNT J-1 Advisor for a sample.)
  • Photocopy of passport biographical page and visa stamp for the J-1 and J-2.
  • Photocopy of DS-2019 documents for both the J-1 and J-2.
  • Photocopy of electronic I-94 record (found at www.cbp.gov/i94) OR paper Form I-94 (both sides) for the J-1 and J-2. The electronic I-94 record is available ONLY to those with passport admission stamp.
  • Financial documentation. Photocopy of the funding documentation dated within the past 6 months. (i.e. J-1 appointment letter on campus, employment letters from overseas, bank statements).
  • Proof of marriage.  Photocopy of marriage certification with certification of translation if not in English.
  • Photocopy of previous EAD card(s), if applicable.

Where do I mail the application materials?
The completed application and materials should be sent to:
USCIS Lockbox Facility with jurisdiction over the J-2's place of residence
If you live in Texas, this will most likely be the USCIS Dallas Lockbox. Refer to the I-765 Filing Instructions to ensure you have the most up to date address.

You may wish to mail your application "certified mail, return receipt requested." Certified mail means that the U.S. Postal Service will assign an identifying number to your piece of mail. Return receipt requested is a postcard which is attached to your piece of mail. This postcard is then signed and mailed back to your home once the person addressed has received your mail. You can ask for this special type of handling in person at any U.S. post office.

You should also receive a receipt from the USCIS Service Center. Save your return receipt.

*It is strongly suggested that you make photocopies of the entire application that you will be mailing to USCIS for your personal records, along with the receipt(s) which USCIS will return to you.

What’s the status of my application?
You can monitor progress of the application on the USCIS website, once you have the receipt notice with your file number in the upper left-hand corner. The website is https://www.uscis.gov.  Look under "Case Status Online."

Can I travel while my application is pending?
International travel is not recommended while the J-2 EAD application is pending at USCIS.  The application could be denied since the applicant does not hold a U.S. immigration status while abroad and is therefore ineligible for any status-associated benefits, including the EAD.

How do I apply for an extension of J-2 work permission?
If your EAD card must be extended, you will need to re-apply for extension. Employment cannot extend beyond the end date on the EAD.  If you are still eligible for work authorization but your EAD is expiring or has expired, you should file for a renewal EAD by submitting a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.  Similar to the process when you initially applied. Extensions of the EAD are possible, up to the end date on the DS-2019. If the J-1 extends his/her program, the J-2 dependent must re-apply for work authorization once the J-1 program extension has been granted. Please note that the EAD extension process also takes an average of 3 months, so plan ahead if employment needs to be continuous (without any gaps between work authorization periods). However, you cannot file for a renewal EAD more than 120 days before your original EAD expires.