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Dependents/J-2 Work Authorization

This page is designed for the J-2 dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors. It explains the process to apply for work authorization and also lists other relevant information pertaining to the maintenance of J-2 immigration status.



  1. You must hold valid J-2 status, and the Exchange Visitor must hold valid J-1 status, as shown on your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record cards or electronic printout.
  2. Your income may not be used to support your J-1 spouse or parent.
  3. You may begin work for the period authorized after you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The EAD is an identification card laminated in plastic, with your photograph, signature, and the expiration date of your permission to work.
  4. You may work part-time or full-time, at any job, for any employer. There is no salary limit. You may also work without a salary, as long as you possess a valid EAD card.
  5. USCIS can authorize J-2 employment through the end date of the Form DS-2019.

How to Apply

  • Apply by mail at least 90 days in advance of the desired work start date.
  • Assemble the documents in the following order:
    • Check or money order payable to the “Department of Homeland Security”
    • Completed Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” available at the USCIS website
      • Question number 16: J-2s should use the code “(c) (5).”
      • Address: It is very important that you use a mailing address that will be current 90 days into the future when you file your application for J-2 work permission. Correspondence from the USCIS cannot be forwarded.
    • Letter to request work permission (see sample below)
    • Photocopy of I-94 of J-1 (front and back, even if there is nothing written on the back) or electronic print out.
    • Photocopy of I-94 of J-2  (front and back even if there is nothing written on the back) or electronic print out.
    • Photocopy of J-1’s DS-2019 SEVIS DS-2019
    • Photocopy of your J-2 dependent SEVIS DS-2019
    • Photocopy of any previous EADs (clear, clean, legible copies)
    • Photocopy of J-2’s passport pages (picture and information pages, visa page, clear, clean, legible copies–if you are Canadian you may use another form of photo-bearing identification).
    • Two identical color photographs with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to USCIS. Lightly print your I-94 # and name on the back of each photo with a pencil. (See Form I-765 Instructions for complete photograph details.)
    • Copy of marriage certificate and appropriate translation if neccessary.
  • Mail the documents to the appropriate USCIS location (see Form I-765 directions, p. 10).
    • There is no specific address for code (c) (5); therefore, you will send the form to Phoenix or Dallas, depending on the home address used.
    • We strongly suggest that you send the application by certified mail or overnight express. (USPS “Express Mail” will be delivered to the standard USPS address listed on p. 10, not to the “courier” address.)
    • Keep copies of the entire application
  • Optional, though strongly recommend: Complete Form G-1145, “E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance” if you would like to receive an email and/or text message notification that USCIS has accepted your application. This should be stapled to the top of your Form I-765.

Authorization to Work

If your immigration status ends, so does your work permission. J-2 status is dependent on that of the J-1. If the J-1 is eligible for an extension of status, he/she should seek the consultation of his/her international adviser/Responsible Officer. A pending application at USCIS for a new EAD does not authorize you to continue working (check with your employer for additional information). When you receive your new EAD, you should update the Work Eligibility Form (Form I-9) with your employer.

Sample Letter of Application for J-2 Work Permission

USCIS requires a letter from you, the J-2 dependent, requesting work permission. The purpose of the letter is to explain to USCIS that the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor has sufficient resources for his or her own expenses, and will not depend on your earnings. In the letter you should indicate the sources and amount of the J-1 Exchange Visitor’s support. You should give a reason for wanting to work, some worthwhile interest or activity that might include family travel or recreational or cultural activities. In your letter you should explicitly state that income from your earnings will not be used to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor.

[Your street address]
[Your city, state, and zip code]
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
[Street address]
[City, state, zip code]

Dear Immigration Officer:

I would like to apply for J-2 work permission.

My [husband’s or wife’s] Form DS-2019 shows $20,000 in support, including $15,000 from [name] University, and $5,000 in personal funds.

I understand that none of my earnings may be used for the support of my J-1 spouse.

[Your signature]
[Your name]


Other J-2 Information

Taxes: The earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, as well as Social Security deductions. Employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from paychecks. You must file an income tax return, Form 1040NR, by April 15th each year, with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for taxes due the prior calendar year. The Return determines whether you owe additional taxes or if you will receive a refund. You must also file a “Required Statement” with Form 1040NR; see IRS Publication 519, “U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.” You may also want to review information on the “International Taxpayer” section of the IRS website.

Study: J-2 dependents are eligible for degree-seeking study in the U.S. as long as the primary J-1 visa holder is maintaining his/her status. J-2s will not be eligible for on-campus employment unless they possess an EAD card.

Extension of J-2 status: J-2 dependents are covered by the extension of stay granted to the J-1 visa holder.

U.S. Social Security Number: J-2 dependents may apply for an U.S. Social Security Number only with a valid EAD Card, DS-2019, and passport.

Driver Licenses: Please see the “Drivers License” section under “Life In Chicago” on our website for further information.