J-2 Dependent Employment

J-2 Dependents may work once they receive authorization from USCIS. Dependents may work full or part time, at any employer, with no legal limit on the amount they earn.


  • J-2 dependents and J-1 Exchange Visitors both must have valid status.
  • The income earned may not be used to support the J-1 spouse or parent.
  • J-2 dependents must have an EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) in order to work.
  • USCIS can authorize J-2 employment for as long as the J-1 Exchange Visitor has permission to stay in the U.S., or for four years, whichever is shorter. Permission to stay expires on the date shown on the I-94 Card. If D/S (Duration of Status) appears on the I-94 card, then permission to stay expires on the date shown on the DS-2019.

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EAD Card – Employment Authorization Document

  • If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you are allowed to work in the U.S.
  • USCIS issues the Employment Authorization Document, also known as a work permit.
  • Apply for the EAD card through USCIS, completing Form I-765.

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Application Procedures for EAD

The following documents must be sent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

USCIS Service Center
PO BOX 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

  • A check for $340.00* made payable to the Department of Homeland Security
  • A complete I-765 form.
  • Copies of the DS-2019 for J-2 and J-1.
  • Copies of both sides of the I-94 card for J-2 and J-1.
  • Copies of both sides of the EAD (Employment Authorization Document)
  • Two photos of yourself with your name printed lightly in pencil on the back of each photo. See page 7 of I-765 for details.
  • A letter to USCIS requesting permission to work.
    • The letter should not demonstrate need.
    • The letter should state that the earnings are not needed to support the family, and should include bank statements, employment letters, scholarships or other proof that the family has sufficient funds.
    • Give a reason for wanting to work such as travel, recreational or cultural activities.
  • A copy of your marriage certificate (with translation, if necessary) to verify your J-2 status.
  • A copy of the passport page that shows the expiration date.

* All fees subject to change.

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Sample Letter

Sample letter to apply for J-2 work permission.

(Your street address)
(Your city, state, and zip code)

USCIS Service Center
PO BOX 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Dear CIS Service Center:

I would like to apply for J-2 work permission.

My spouse's DS-2019 form shows $XX,XXX in support from his/her university department. Of this amount approximately $X,XXX is withheld from his/her paycheck for taxes. In addition we pay $X,XXX per year for health insurance. This leaves us $XX,XXX a year or $XXX per month to live on. Our monthly budget is as follows:

$ XXX Rent and utilities
$ XXX Food
$ XXX Miscellaneous (clothing, transportation, recreation)

$ XXX Total

As this budget shows, we have enough to live modestly, but there are no funds left for expenses that are not essential. While in the United States I would like to take some classes. These classes would cost $X,XXX, and we can only afford this expense if I work. I, therefore, hope that you will approve my request.

I understand that none of my earnings may be used for the support of my J-1 spouse.

(Your signature)
(Your name)

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