An Exchange Visitor may be accompanied by his or her dependent(s) at any time. A J-2’s DS-2019 may be issued along with the J-1’s documentation or at a later time. OIS does not charge an additional fee to issue J-2 DS-2019s, nor are J-2 dependents required to pay the SEVIS fee. Children age 21 or older are not eligible to enter as J-2 dependents.
The same rules apply to J-2 travel as to travel by J-1 Exchange Visitors. This means the J-2 should carry:
- Valid Passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of the re-entry to the US.)
- Valid J-1 visa in passport (This does not apply to citizens of Canada.)
- DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement from an OIS advisor (Signatures are valid for 1 year.)
If the J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to a Bar, the J-2 dependents are also subject. To learn more, please visit our J-1 Bars page.
Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors are allowed to work part-time or full-time in the U.S. at the job of their choice. You may apply for authorization once the J-2 has entered the country. OIS is not involved in this process but happy to answer any questions you may have.
We recommend waiting at least 30 days after the J-2’s arrival in the US before applying for employment authorization. Applications submitted sooner may lead US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to question whether the individual entered the US as a J-2 in order to avoid applying for a work visa.
After entering the United States, you can request for employment authorization (by mail) with USCIS.
Step 1: Collect the required application materials listed below. Be sure to make photocopies of your entire application for your records.
Step 2: Mail all required application materials to the appropriate USCIS Service Center. The address is indicated in the I-765 instructions. We recommend you send your application through the US Postal Service by “certified mail/ return receipt requested.”
Step 3: Do not accept employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS. Processing times are approximately 3 months to be approved.
Step 4: Apply for a Social Security Card once you have receive your EAD.
- Completed Form I-765 from www.uscis.gov
- Check or money order payable to the Department of Homeland Security in the amount listed for I-765 instructions
Note: Indicate your name and address on check
- Letter to USCIS explaining reason requesting employment authorization (Click here for sample letter)
- Copies of both J-1 and J-2 DS-2019s (Do not send the originals.)
- Copy of J-2 visa stamp in passport
- Copy of J-2’s biographical page in passport
- Copies of both J-1 and J-2’s I-94 print-outs
- Two US passport-style photos, with your name and I-94 number printed on the back of each
- Copy of Marriage Certificate translated in English
- Copies of any previously issued EAD cards (if re-applying for J-2 employment authorization)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can I work for?
The J-2 dependent may work until the end date indicated on the EAD card or until the J-1 principal visitor completes his or her program, whichever is earlier. J-2 can apply to renew work authorization if the J-1 remains in status. If the J-1 extends their DS-2019, the J-2 must re-apply for work authorization following the extension.
Note: Your EAD end-date usually matches the expiration date on the J-1’s DS-2019.
Can I still work if the status of the J-1 ends?
Work authorization for the J-2 dependent is always dependent on the status of the J-1. If the J-1 no longer works at USC or changes to a new visa category, the J-2 work authorization automatically ends.
Employment authorization renewals
To avoid a gap in employment, OIS recommends that you renew your EAD three months before the end date on your current EAD. You are not permitted to work beyond the previously authorized date. The renewal process is the same as your initial application.
J-2’s are subject to social security taxes/ federal income taxes. Please consult with a tax accountant.
English Language Program (ELP)
The Office of International Services has been offering free English instruction to international dependents and J-1 Exchange Visitors through its English Language Program (ELP) for over 30 years. This program is held weekly Mondays through Thursdays from 9:30am to 11:45am, and offers three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. In addition to English classes during the Fall and Spring semesters, ELP participants enjoy regular outings and celebrations.
In the beginner’s level, students learn basic grammar, vocabularies, and sentence structures. In the intermediate level where students are more verbal yet have harder time expressing their thoughts coherently, they learn proper pronunciation through listening to CDs and group discussions. In the advanced level, students are challenged with writing and reading materials to increase their comprehension ability. They also learn idioms and discuss common issues faced by international students, such as immigration problems, laws, and car insurance.
Each month, the program offers students the opportunity to explore Los Angeles or other cultures through a potluck event. Students have the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum, downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown, and many educational places in Los Angeles.
Classes are taught by experienced teachers, who create a safe and friendly environment for spouses and family members of international students to learn and improve their English, as well as make friends in the community. Students have enjoyed learning English together and getting to know each other’s culture.