J-2 visa holders (dependents of J-1s) are eligible to apply for employment authorization from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is valid for any kind and amount of employment.

Are You Eligible?

J-2 dependents are generally eligible to apply for work authorization if they meet the following requirements:

  1. Valid J status for both the J-1 and J-2 dependent, as shown on the I-94 records

  2. Income may not be used to support the J-1

You will need to demonstrate that the J-1 Exchange Visitor has adequate funds for their own support without your employment. You may seek employment to support the family’s recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things.

Employment may begin only after receiving the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) from USCIS. USCIS generally authorizes J-2 employment for one year or to the expiration date of the J-1 visa holder’s DS-2019. Permission to work ends on the expiration date on the EAD and is valid only as long as the J-1 is maintaining status.

Application Process

Step 1. Submit Materials to USCIS

Gather the required materials (see below) and mail your application materials to the USCIS Lockbox. Click on “Foreign Students” and look for the (c)(5) eligibility category.

We recommend keeping a digital copy of all documents and requesting a tracking number or certified mail with a return receipt with any mailing option.


Step 2. Receive the EAD

Allow 2-5 months processing time to receive your employment authorization document (EAD). The earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes.

If you wish to renew your EAD, you will need to submit a new application and allow another 2-5 months processing time. You must have a valid EAD to continue working. When you receive the new EAD, you will need to update your documents with your employer.

Required Materials for Application

Always refer to USCIS for the most up-to-date requirements

  • passport-style photos taken within 30 days

  • Check, money order, or Form G-1450 for credit card transactions made payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for the exact current fee (no biometric fee required)

  • Form G-1145: To receive a text or email receipt notification

  • Form I-765: The eligibility category is (c)(5). Don’t forget to sign by hand with black ink!

  • Copies of the J-1 & J-2's DS-2019 forms

  • Copies of the J-1 & J-2's I-94 records

  • Copies of any previously issued employment authorization document(s)

  • Copy of the J-2’s passport ID page

  • A letter written by the J-2 dependent requesting work permission and demonstrating that the funds will not be used to support the J-1