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Applying for J-2 Employment Authorization

J-2 visa holders are eligible to apply for work permission to USCIS as long as the J-1 maintains valid J-1 status. Employment for J-2 dependents may not be used to provide the basic needs or educational expenses for the J-1 visa holder.

Employment authorization is valid for any type of employment and even several jobs at the same time. The application does not depend on an offer of employment, nor is it restricted to any previous area of experience the applicant may have.

Applications may take 90–120 days to be processed by USCIS.

If the J-1 changes his or her status to another classification, the J-2 will have to stop employment once the change of status becomes effective even if their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is still valid.

The application for J-2 employment authorization includes:

  • A cover letter to USCIS which states that J-2 earnings will not be used to support the J-1. For example: "I am applying for employment authorization as a J-2 dependent. My husband (or wife) is currently in J-1 visa status as a student (or scholar) and has sufficient funds for his (or her) support. Any income from my employment will not be used to support the J-1 or myself. I will use this income for purposes of cultural enrichment and recreation." You may elaborate on what types of cultural or recreational activities you wish to pursue. You are encouraged to submit a budget and funding sources to assure the adjudicating officer that the income you may earn will not support either you or the J-1 visa holder.
  • Form I-765. Use the most current version of the I-765 form here. See answers to some questions below: Question
  • Answer all questions fully and accurately. If a question does not apply to you, type or print "N/A", or for numeric responses, "NONE", unless otherwise directed.
  1. Question 8: You probably don’t have an Alien Number, you may leave this field blank.
  2. Question 12: If you answer "yes", please go to Part 6 and list the receipt number and start and end date of each previous EAD that you have received.
  3. Question 13.a: Citizenship and Immigration Services will ask the Social Security Administration to issue you a Social Security Number on a Social Security Card, if you do not already have one. If you do not request it now, you will have to make a separate application to the Social Security Administration. Indicate "yes" or "no" to this question
  4. Question 13.b: If you have a number, provide it if you know it.
  5. Question 14: If you don’t have a number, and want one, answer "yes".
  6. Question 15: Indicate "yes" or "no" to this question
  7. Question 16.a-17.b: If you want a card and number issued, you must provide the names of your parents.
  8. Question 27: Enter (C) (5) [ignore the last box / parentheses]
  • A check or money order for fee as noted in I-765 form instructions made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Visit the USCIS website for current filing fees.
  • Photocopy of your electronic I-94 arrival record.
  • Photocopy of J-1's DS-2019.
  • Photocopy of your J-2 DS-2019.
  • Photocopy of your passport: Include only the pages containing the expiration date of your passport and the photo.
  • Photocopy of your marriage certificate. If your marriage certificate is not in English, enclose a translated copy. The translation can be done by either you or by someone else. Any translation should include a statement to the effect that the person translating the document is fluent in both English and the other language and that they certify that the translation is true and accurate. 

See how the translation should be formatted.

  • Photocopy of any previously issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Two identical color passport photographs, full face frontal view measuring 2" by 2."
  1. The head of the image should measure between 1" and 1 3/8." The photos should be recent, no more than 30 days old.
  2. These photos can be taken at any place that takes good passport photos.
  3. Print your name and I-94 number on the back of both photos.
  4. Place photos in an envelope.
  5. Write your name and your I-94 number clearly on the envelope.

Attach both the fee and the envelope containing the photos to the I-765 Form using paperclips.

Mailing Instructions

Send your application to the USCIS Lockbox facility. You can locate the address information at the bottom of the USCIS page, Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

We recommend that you mail your application by certified mail with a return receipt or by courier service (e.g. FedEx) to have proof that your application was received. Please make a copy of your application before mailing it.

EAD processing times have been affected by COVID, and may exceed 120 days. You are not permitted to work until you receive the EAD card. If you move, the Postal Service will not forward your mail from USCIS to your new address.