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International Student Services

J-2 Dependents


Dependents may accompany you, the J-1 the Exchange Visitor to the U.S., or follow to join you at a later date. Dependent family members hold J-2 status. In order to qualify for J-2 status, individuals must establish to the satisfaction of the officer at the U.S. consulate:

  • Is your spouse (marriage license) or child (birth certificate).
  • Has sufficient funds to cover his/her expenses while in the U.S.
  • Intends to leave the U.S. upon termination of your J-1 status.

Each J-2 dependent must be in possession of his or her own original DS-2019 form. To request a DS-2019 for a dependent, the J-1 Exchange Visitor must submit the “Add Dependent” request through their MyISSS portal. A J-2 dependent’s status is valid only if the J-1 exchange visitor maintains their status. Though the regulations do not define the amount of time a J-1 exchange visitor can be outside the U.S. without affecting the status of the dependents who remain in the U.S., such periods of separation should be brief.

J-2 Enrollment

A J-2 spouse or child is eligible to study full or part-time. There are no restrictions on studying for individuals in J-2 status.

J-2 Employment

Dependents in J-2 status may request employment authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Income from the J-2’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 the income is needed to support the J-1. Employment may be authorized up to twelve months, and may be renewed annually.

Applying for J-2 Employment Authorization

  • Form I-765 (Instructions are included with the form and should be read carefully. In item 3, use an address that will not change as mail from USCIS will not be forwarded. In item 16, write: (C)(5). The J-2 applicant signs the form in black ink.)
  • Form I-765 filing fee paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Letter explaining why work authorization is sought, written by J-2 applicant; the letter should state that employment is not necessary to support the J-1
  • Photocopies of the J-2’s and J-1’s current and prior DS-2019 forms
  • Two photos (Photos should be passport style: white background, unmounted glossy, unretouched, with a full face position, and taken no earlier than 30 days before submission to USCIS. Lightly print your on the back of each photo with pencil. Place the photos in a small plastic bag or envelope and staple to the I-765 form.)
  • Photocopy of the identification page in the J-2’s passport
  • Photocopy of the visa page in J-2’s passport
  • Photocopy of J-2’s I-94 card (front and back)
  • Photocopies of any EAD cards issued previously to the J-2
  • Photocopy of the J-2’s driver’s license or other photo identification, if available
  • Marriage certificate (if spouse of the J-1), or birth certificate (if child of the J-1); foreign-language documents should include an English tradition

You cannot file Form I-765 online. You must mail to one of the below locations:

Mailing Address

U.S. Postal Service Express Mail or a Courier Service
Attn: NFB
P.O. Box 805371
Chicago, IL 60680-5371
Attn: NFB (Box 805371)
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

USCIS processing can take 3-5 months. During this time, you may receive a Request for Evidence asking for additional documentation or clarification. If you receive such a document, you should reach out to ISS to assist with your response.

Once approved, USCIS will mail to the J-2 dependent an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). The dependent cannot begin working until they have received this document.