Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

J-2 Dependent Eligibility

If you are in J-1 status, you may request J-2 status for your legal spouse and/or your unmarried minor children under the age of 21. No other family members are eligible for J-2 status. Note: once a dependent child reaches the age of 21, the child is no longer eligible to have J-2 status.

Requesting J-2 Status for Family Members

You may request J-2 status for your family members when you are making your initial application for a J-1 status, or after you have arrived in the US as a J-1 student or scholar. You must be able to show that you have adequate financial resources for your family members in the following amounts:

  • US$5,000 per year for your spouse
  • US$4,000 per year for each dependent child

If you are already in the US as a J-1 student or scholar, contact the International Center to request J-2 status for your family members. The International Center will issue separate Form DS-2019s for each family member so that they can apply for J-2 visas at a US consulate. When applying for J-2 status, your family members may be expected to show proof of family relationship and copies of financial documents in addition to their DS-2019 forms.

J-2 Benefits and Restrictions

Study: J-2 family members are permitted to study on a part-time or full-time basis.

Employment: J-2 family members may apply to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization only after arriving in the US in J-2 status. See the section at the bottom of this page for more information about J-2 employment authorization.

Health Insurance: J-2 family members are also required to have adequate health insurance that meets J-1 visa requirements. Failure to have adequate insurance may lead to termination of status.

Other Restrictions: If you are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, your J-2 family members may also become subject to the requirement. In addition, the J-2 dependents of current or future J-1 research scholars and J-1 professors may also be subject to the 12- and 24-month bars on initial or repeat participation. Contact the International Center for more information.

J-2 Employment Authorization

J-2 family members can submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request employment authorization after they have arrived in the US. In order to qualify, the J-1 student or scholar must be in valid J-1 status.

USCIS takes 3-4 months to process an employment authorization application. Once USCIS approves the application, they will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card, allowing the J-2 family member to work in the US. Paid employment is not permitted until USCIS has issued an EAD card and the start date of the EAD card has been reached.

Important: income from J-2 employment may be used to support the personal expenses of the J-2 family member or the family's recreational and cultural activities and personal travel. USCIS will not grant employment authorization if the primary purpose is to support the J-1 student or scholar's educational or personal expenses.

The International Center provides general guidance to J-2 applicants for employment authorization. The basic application requirements include the following:

  • Original, signed Form I-765 from USCIS
  • USCIS filing fee (currently US $410, as of 7/1/2019)
  • Two color US-style passport photographs taken within the past thirty days
  • Signed letter of explanation from the J-2 spouse discussing purpose for applying for employment authorization
  • Copies of the J-2's immigration documents, including
    • Passport identification page
    • J-2 visa
    • I-94 admission record from CBP web site
    • Form DS-2019 for J-2 status from Tufts
  • Copies of the J-1 scholar's immigration documents, including
    • Passport identification page
    • J-1 visa
    • I-94 admission record from CBP web site
    • Form DS-2019 for J-1 status from Tufts

Recommendations

  • Follow all I-765 instructions on the USCIS web site regarding mailing address and timelines
  • Keep a copy of the application
  • Use a mailing service that allows for tracking and/or delivery confirmation
  • It may take several months for USCIS to issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • EAD cards are valid for up to one year and are renewable as long as the J-1 student or scholar continues to maintain valid J-1 status