Employment Authorization for Dependents

J-2 dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to be employed. An individual in valid J-2 status may not accept employment in the U.S. until he/she has received permission from the USCIS to do so.

Conditions for Employment

You must:

  • Be a dependent of a J-1 Exchange Visitor who holds an unexpired Form DS-2019 along with a valid Form I-94;
  • Hold valid J-2 status as evidenced by a valid Form I-94.
  • Not need income earned from your work to support your J-1 spouse. Income received from your work may only be used to provide "supplemental" family income for recreation, travel and other cultural or educational activities.
  • Make an application to the USCIS on Form I-765 for permission to work. Your application must include specific supporting documentation and a filing fee.
  • Not begin employment until the USCIS has approved your application for work authorization and has issued you an Employment Authorization Card (commonly referred to as EAD). The EAD is a laminated identification card containing your photograph, and the dates you are authorized to be employed.
  • Pay federal and state taxes on any money earned in the United States including income and social security taxes. (J-2 dependents who work are required to pay social security taxes.)

Once you have been issued an EAD, you may work part-time or full-time for any employer in the U.S. (However, you may not practice medicine in the U.S. even if you have a license to do so in your home country.) There is no legal limit to the amount of money you may earn.

When Will I Receive My Employment Authorization?

If your application is complete, the USCIS will mail you a Form called an I-797, a receipt notice verifying that your application has been received. The receipt notice will indicate how long the USCIS estimates it will take to make a decision on your application.

If your application is approved, the USCIS will mail your EAD directly to you at the address you listed on Form I-765.

If your application is denied, you will receive a written notice from the USCIS explaining the basis for the decision.

In most cases, if your application is complete and approved, you will receive your EAD within 90 days of the date of the receipt notice. Remember, you may not begin employment until you receive your EAD and you are not permitted to work after the date of expiration on your EAD. However, you may apply for an extension of your current EAD if you are still eligible at the time your EAD expires. Keep in mind though that if your permission to stay expires, so will your EAD! Consult the OISS for more information on the expiration of your permission to stay in the U.S.