Work Permission For Dependents in Exchange Visitor Dependent (J-2) Status

J-2 visa holders (the spouses, partners, and dependent children of J-1's) may apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work in the United States. This type of application is routinely approved since the regulation says only  “income from the spouse's or dependent's employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.”  Keep in mind that USCIS processing can take an average of 90 days or longer.

Conditions For Employment

  • The primary exchange visitor must have valid J-1 status, and you must hold valid J-2 status, as shown on your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record card.
  • Your income in the United States may not be used to support your J-1 spouse/parents.
  • You may start working when you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) but not before the date listed on the EAD card. 
  • If permission for employment is granted, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued and is valid for any kind of full-time or part-time employment for the period of time stated on the EAD. There is no legal limit to the amount of money that you may earn.
  • J-2 employment authorization is valid only if the J-1 is maintaining status." [8 CFR 214.2(j)(1)(v)(B)] J-2 employment authorization may not exceed the program expiration date indicated on the principal's DS-2019. DO NOT WORK PAST THE EXPIRATION DATE ON YOUR EAD CARD.

Completing the Application

  • Download Form I-765
  • You should completely fill in all of the required fields
  • Please check your information carefully; use your full legal name when completing your application.
  • You must sign the Form I-765 in BLUE INK
  • In Section 16, write in the parenthesis (c) (5) ( ) to indicate that you are applying for work permission based on your J2 status [See EAD Codes]
  • Skip # 17 as this does not apply to you

Supporting Documents

  Send the following items to USCIS:

  • Copy of your passport, I-94 card and J2 visa (Canadians may use another form of photo-bearing identification)
  • Copy of your spouse's passport, I-94 card and J1 visa (Canadians may use another form of photo-bearing identification)
  • Copy of all Forms DS-2019s issued to the principal J1 visa holder and J2 dependent
  • Letter from you indicating that you are not seeking this employment in order to support the J-1 exchange visitor (document funding of J1 principal visa holder)
  • Form I-765 
  • 2 EAD photos with a white background taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to the USCIS.
  • Personal check, certified bank check or money order for current fee, made payable to USCIS in the amount of $410 (Make sure that you write your check correctly) 

Send the Complete Application To:

USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067


Authorization To Work

You may not begin employment until you receive approval from USCIS.  Your authorization to work is valid until the expiration date on the Employment Authorization Document.  You may not work past this date.  If your employment document expires before you have made arrangements to extend it, you must stop working until you receive approval from USCIS that your extension has been granted.

Extension of EAD

In order to avoid interruptions in J-2 employment authorization, it is important to file the Form I-765 for extension of employment authorization sufficiently in advance (but no more than 120 days in advance) so that the extension application is approved before the expiration of the current grant of authorization. J-2 employment authorization expires with the expiration of the EAD, and the mere filing of an application for new authorization does not permit employment during the adjudication process. If the current EAD expires, the J-2 must cease employment until receiving the new EAD. You will send in all the documentst that you included in the initial EAD application plus a copy of your EAD. You will need to pay the $410 fee again.


The earnings of J-2 dependents are subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and Social Security and employers are required by law to withhold those taxes from paychecks.  By April 15, you must file an income tax return, form 1040 NR, with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), covering the prior calendar year.  The return determines whether you owe more taxes or have a refund coming.  With form 1040 NR, you must also file a "required Statement" See IRS publication 519, "US Tax Guide for Aliens."

Instructions For Sample Letter:

The letter you are writing to request work authorization must clearly indicate that the funds you earn will not be used to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor.  The following points should be addressed in your letter:

  • You are a J-2 visa holder and are applying for employment authorization on that basis.
  • Give a brief reason why the income is necessary.  You should suggest cultural, recreational, education or travel plans.  For example, if you are studying in the US or have children enrolled in school, indicate that in the letter.  If you plan to make frequent trips to a relative living in another state, list that as a reason you will need additional funds.
  • Clearly state that you are not using these funds to support the J-1 principal alien.  You should indicate your spouse's source of funding and document that this funding is quite sufficient for her/his purposes.

Sample J-2 Work Permission Letter

Your Name

Your Address

Your I-94 #

US Citizenship & Immigration Service

75 Lower Weldon Street 
St. Albans, VT 05479-0001

To Whom It May Concern:

With this letter, I am applying for employment authorization on the basis of my J-2 status. I am the dependent [wife or husband] of [NAME of J-1 visa holder], a J-1 [student or scholar] at Temple University.

I need to work because [insert your reason for employment].


I declare that the money I earn will be used for educational, cultural, recreational, and related travel activities and will not be used to support the J-1.