Spouses in J-2 status may apply for employment authorization from the USCIS. OVIS has the required forms and instructions. The authorization will need to be renewed by application each year, and the wages earned must not be used to support the J-1 principal in any way. The J-2 may not start work until he or she has received the employment authorization card from the USCIS. This can take three months or more. Once the card is received, the J-2 must apply for a social security number.
Applying for J-2 Employment Authorization
The dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors who have entered the U.S. in J-2 visa status are eligible to apply to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) for Employment Authorization by mail. There is no in-person application procedure.
- Fill out Form I-765, the application for employment authorization. J-2 dependents should consult I-765 instructions and contact OVIS with any questions. The "Eligibility Category" for J-2 work authorization is (c)(5)( ). The last set of parentheses should be left blank.
- Attach the correct I-765 filing fee. Personal checks are acceptable. Checks should be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Evidence the J-1 principal foreign national is currently maintaining status:
- Passport biographical data page
- J-2 Form DS-2019 documents:
- Two identical U.S. passport-style color photographs of yourself taken recently, which must meet the following requirements:
- The photos must have a white to off-white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched.
- The photos must be 2 by 2 inches.
- The photos must be in color with full-face, frontal view.
- Head height should measure 1" to 1-3/8 inches from the top of your hair to the bottom of your chin. Eye height is between 1-1/8 to 1-3/8 inches from the top of your eyes to the bottom of photo.
- Your head must be bare unless you are wearing headwear as required by a religious denomination of which you are a member.
- Using a pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name and A-Number (if any) on the back of the photo.
- Evidence any income from this employment authorization will not be used to support the J-1 principal foreign national. This could be a cover letter stating something along the lines of the following: "To whom it may concern: I am applying for employment authorization as a J-2 dependent. My husband (or wife) is currently in J-1 visa status as a student (or scholar) and has sufficient funds for his (or her) support. Any income from my employment will not be used to support the J-1. I will use this income for purposes of cultural enrichment and recreation."You may elaborate on what types of cultural or recreational activities you wish to pursue, although it is not required. Add a statement that you have included the previously mentioned documents.
- Include evidence of all previously authorized periods of J-2 employment, if any.
Send all documents by certified mail with a return receipt or by express mail. Check the correct mailing address before mailing the application. Online filing is also available; please review the information on the USCIS website.
Individuals are not permitted to work until the EAD work card is received. OVIS requires a copy of the J-2 EAD card once it has been approved and received by the J-2 dependent.