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J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents are defined as the spouse or unmarried children, under the age of 21, of a J-1 Exchange Visitor. Below you will find immigration information for dependent family members but pre-arrival information for families and resources for family life in the U.S. may also be helpful.

Allowable activities for J-2 dependents Heading link

  • Study – J-2 dependents are eligible for full-time, degree-seeking study in the U.S. as long as the primary Exchange Visitor continues to maintain their valid J-1 status.
  • Work – J-2 dependents may apply for work authorization after they have entered the U.S. in J-2 status. Please note that this process can take several months. J-2 dependents may not work, paid or unpaid, until they have work authorization from USCIS. Learn more about J-2 dependent work authorization.
  • Volunteering – Certain volunteer opportunities may be possible without an EAD card. Learn more about volunteering in the U.S. for nonimmigrants.
  • Travel – J-2 dependents may leave and re-enter the U.S. as long as they have a valid travel signature on their DS-2019. As long as the J-2 DS-2019 remains active, J-2 dependents must maintain valid health insurance, even while outside the U.S.

Additional considerations for J-2 dependents Heading link

  • J-2 dependents must have a valid DS-2019 and passport through the duration of their stay in the U.S. If your passport will expire while here, OIS strongly encourages that you begin the renewal process at least 6 months in advance of the expiration date. Learn how to renew or replace your immigration documents.
  • J-2 dependents over the age of 16 may be eligible to apply for a U.S. driver’s license.
  • J-2 dependents are subject to the same post-program restrictions based on the category of the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor. For further information, please review the J-1 Exchange Visitors maintaining status basics on the 12 and 24-month bar and the two-year home residency requirement.
  • J-2 dependents of J-1 EV Research Scholars may not change to their own J-1 EV Research Scholar program after entering the U.S. This is due to the Department of State’s 24-month bar restriction.
  • If a J-2 dependent will depart the U.S. and not return in J-2 status, or will/has changed to another immigration status, contact OIS, so that we may close the record.
  • Department of State advises that J-2 dependents should depart the U.S. with, or prior to, the primary J-1 Exchange Visitor. They also advise that J-2 dependents should reside at the same residential address in the U.S. as the J-1 Exchange Visitor throughout their program duration.