International Scholar Relations

J-2 Employment for Dependents

J-2 Employment

U.S. Department of Labor Regulation states that J-2 employment may be authorized for the duration of the J-1 principal alien’s authorized stay as indicated on Form I-94 or a period of 4 years, whichever is shorter. The employment authorization is valid only if the J-1 Scholar is maintaining status. Conditions for such employment include the following.

  • You must have valid J-1 status
  • Your dependent must hold a valid J-2 status, as shown on the I-94 Arrival/Departure Record card.
  • Any income earned by the dependent may not be used to support you as a J-1 Scholar.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

If permission for employment is granted, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and is valid for any kind of full-time or part-time employment for the period of time stated on the EAD. The EAD card is typically issued with dates that match the primary J-1’s Form DS-2019 begin and end dates. There is no legal limit to the amount of money that the dependent may earn.

The J-2 dependent may start working when he/she receives the Employment Authorization Document, but not before the date listed on the EAD card. The EAD is an identification card laminated in plastic with a photo and the validity and expiration dates of the permission to work.

EAD (work permit)

  • J-2 work permits are obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) through an application process that takes 3-5 months to complete. Employment may not begin until the J-2 has received the work permit, called the Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • J-2 work permits allow the holder to work in any job, full-time or part-time, but employment may not extend beyond the end date on the EAD. Extension of work permits is possible, up to the end date of the J-1’s form DS-2019. Please note that the extension process also takes 3-5 months, so plan ahead if you want your employment to be continuous (without any gaps between work authorization periods).

EAD Application Process

To apply for an EAD, mail the items listed below to the USCIS (address below). (Be sure to keep photocopies of the entire packet for your records).

  1. $340 Check or Money Order
    Your fee must be the correct amount or your application will be returned (even if you pay the higher amount). Check or money orders must be made payable to “USCIS”. A personal check is preferable because, if necessary, you will be able to determine if it has been cashed. A name and an address must be printed on the check; temporary checks are not allowed.
  2. I-765 Form
    Print this form from the USCIS web site http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-765.pdf Complete the form and don’t forget to sign at the bottom (with blue ink). On item #9, leave blank if you do not yet have a Social Security number On item #16, put in the code, “(C)(5)( )”.
  3. DS-2019s
    Photocopy only of both the J-1’s and J-2’s DS-2019 forms.
  4. I-94 (J-2’s)
    Photocopy only (both sides). The I-94 can be retrieved electronically at the Department of Homeland Security’s website. 
  5. Photos (2), U.S. passport-style
    See instructions on the U.S. Department of State web site. http://travel.state.gov/passport/guide/guide_2081.html Lightly print your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo in case they get separated from your application. Include the number on your previous EAD, if you have one.
  6. Financial Statement
    (See sample at the end of this page)
  7. Evidence of Funds
    Photocopy of J-1’s funding source documentation to support stay in U.S.
  8. J-2 Biographical Data
    Photocopy of biographical page in the J-2’s passport.
  9. Proof of Marriage
    Photocopy of marriage certificate, with certification of translation, if not in English.

For an extension/renewal of a work permit (which takes 3-5 months), include all of the above items and a photocopy of your previous EAD card(s).

Mailing the Application to the USCIS

Send your application to the appropriate address, depending on the type of mail service you use. We recommend sending it by Certified Mail, Return Receipt available from any U.S. Post Office.

For Regular or Certified Mail:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
P.O. Box 10765
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0765

For Overnight or Courier Delivery
(Federal Express Next Day Air, UPS, etc.)
United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services
California Service Center
24000 Avila Road, 2nd Floor, Room 2302
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Tel. 949-831-8427

“Notice of Action” Receipt (Form I-797)

After mailing the documents, you will receive a “Notice of Action” from the USCIS, usually within 2-6 weeks stating you need to wait about 80 days to receive your EAD. This is you receipt, so take care not to lose it. This “Notice of Action” can help track the status of your EAD application. You may use the receipt number (beginning with “WAC” if you are applying through the California Service Center) to check the status of your case online. To check the status of your case, please visit the USCIS website’s Case State Service Online at the following link: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/index.jsp

Authorization to Work

Remember, 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 (EAD). 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.

Social Security Number (SSN)

Anyone who earns money in the United States must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes. ISR can provide you with instructions on applying for a social security number. J-2 visa holders are subject to social security taxes, federal income taxed and , where applicable state, and local income taxes.

An application may be completed at the Social Security Office or you can download the form from the SSA’s Social Security Forms page at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.html.

Or, you may visit the local Social Security Office, or visit the Social Security Administration Web site at http://www.ssa.gov/. Also, you may call toll free 1-800-772-1213.

The nearest office of the U.S. Social Security Administration is located at:

960 West Mission Blvd.
Pomona, CA, 91766.
Phone: 1-800 772-1213.

The Social Security Office is open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday except Federal Holidays (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/holidays.html).

Reporting IncomeTax

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, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p519/index.html

Sample J-2 Work Permission Letter

You may use the sample letter below to help compose your letter of request for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the USCIS in support of your application for work authorization as a J-2.


(Begin Text)

Current Date:

Your name:
Your mailing address:

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
California Service Center
P.O. Box 10765
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-0765 To Whom It May Concern:

I am the J-2 dependent of the J-1 International Scholar (J-1’s name) and I wish to apply for permission for employment authorization. My (wife or husband) receives a (stipend, salary, or grant) from (specify source) sufficient to provide for (name of spouse) expenses. I wish to be employed to provide for my expenses (add “and those of my children”, if applicable), and to pursue my interests in (field). Any money which I earn from such employment will be used for my family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things, and not for the support of my spouse, (name of spouse). Please grant me permission to be employed.

Enclosed are all required documents for my application. (List documents.)

Thank you very much for your assistance.


Your signature

[end text]

 Updated:  August 2015