J-2 Dependent Work Authorization
J-2 dependents are defined as the spouse or unmarried children, under the age of 21, of a J-1 Exchange Visitor. The information below outlines work authorization eligibility and the application process for J-2 dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors sponsored by UIC. Learn more about adding or updating a J-2 dependent record and J-2 status basics.
Eligibility Heading link
J-2 dependents may apply to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for work authorization after they have entered the U.S. in J-2 status. Applications for J-2 dependent work authorization should be started as soon after arrival as possible as it can take several months for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to arrive. While OIS advisors cannot assist directly with this application, please read below for further guidance.
- You must hold valid J-2 status, and the primary Exchange Visitor (EV) must hold valid J-1 status, as shown on your Form I-94.
- Your income may not be used to support your J-1 spouse or parent.
- Generally, the minimum age for employment in the U.S. is 16 years old.
- You may only begin work for the period authorized after you receive your EAD from USCIS. The EAD is a secure identification card with your photograph, signature, and work authorization dates.
- You may work part-time or full-time, at any job, for any employer. There is no salary limit. You may also work without a salary, as long as you possess a valid EAD card.
- USCIS can authorize J-2 dependent employment through the current end date of the Form DS-2019, or up to 4 years, whichever is shorter.
How to apply Heading link
To apply for J-2 dependent work authorization, you will complete Form I-765 and mail it, along with supporting documentation, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We recommend that you mail your application packet to USCIS at least 90 days in advance of the desired work start date to allow adequate time for processing and return mailing of the resulting Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Remember that working prior to obtaining authorization is a violation of status. Again, while OIS cannot assist you in filing this application, we hope the following information is helpful.
Preparing the application packet
Below is a list of the documents, in the recommended order, that should be included in a J-2 dependent work authorization application. Please ensure that your application is complete and that all document copies are clearly legible. We suggest that you make a second copy of the application for your records prior to sealing the packet for mailing.
- Check or money order payable to the “Department of Homeland Security” – Please see the USCIS website for the current Form I-765 filing fee.
- Completed Form G-1145 “E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance” – This document is optional but strongly encouraged. If you include the G-1145, USCIS will send you electronic notification upon receiving your application. Staple the completed Form G-1145 to the top of your Form I-765.
- Completed Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization” – Download Form I-765 on the USCIS website. When filling out Form I-765, please note the following:
- Question number 13: If you were previously issued a Social Security Number (SSN), you must indicate that here.
- Question numbers 14–17: You have the option to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) in your EAD application. All paid employees in the U.S. must have an SSN for tax purposes. If you do not request the SSN now, you will need to submit a separate application to the Social Security Administration, once employed.
- Question number 16: J-2 dependents should use the code “(c) (5).”
- Address: It is very important that you use a mailing address that will still be accurate at least 90 days into the future from the time you file your application as mail from USCIS cannot be forwarded.
- Letter to request work permission – See sample template below.
- Photocopy of I-94 of J-1 Exchange Visitor
- Photocopy of I-94 of J-2 dependent
- Photocopy of J-1 Exchange Visitor’s Form DS-2019
- Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s Form DS-2019
- Photocopy of any previous EADs issued to the J-2 dependent
- Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s passport pages – Include all biographical information pages, photo page, and U.S. visa pages. If you are Canadian, you may use another form of photo-bearing identification in place of the U.S. visa page.
- Two identical color photographs – Photos should have a white background and be taken no earlier than 30 days prior to mailing the application to USCIS. Lightly print your I-94 admission record number and your name on the back of each photo with a pencil. Refer to the Form I-765 Instructions for complete photograph details.
- Copy of marriage or birth certificate – Include an English translation, if necessary.
- Any additional documents that support your petition
Mailing the application to USCIS
There is no single mailing address for I-765 application code (c) (5). You will send your application to a USCIS lockbox, depending on the home address listed on your application. We strongly suggest that you send the application by certified mail or overnight express. Please note that there are two distinct USCIS mailing addresses, depending on whether you use U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or a mail courier (FedEx, DHL UPS). Visit the USCIS website to confirm the mailing address for Form I-765.