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Applying for J-2 Employment Authorization

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J-2 visa holders are eligible to apply for permission to work from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must be in and maintain valid J-2 status. USCIS may take up to 120 days to process your application.

Keep in mind these requirements:

  • You must be in and maintain valid J-2 status. 
  • Your employment (as a J-2 visa holder) may not be used to provide basic needs or educational expenses for your related J-1 visa holder.
  • Your employment authorization is valid for any type of employment as well as for multiple simultaneous jobs. You do not need a job offer to apply nor is your application restricted to any previous area of experience you may have.
  • If your related J-1 visa holder changes their status to another classification, you must stop your employment immediately even if your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is still valid.
  • When your EAD expires, you cannot work until you receive a new EAD from USCIS.


Your application for J-2 employment authorization includes:

  • A cover letter to the USCIS stating that your 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 spouse is currently in J-1 visa status as a student (or scholar) and has sufficient funds for their 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. See I-765 Application for Employment for the most current application form. 

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.

Following are guidelines for answers to some questions:

  • Question 8: You probably don’t have an Alien Number, you may leave this field blank.
  • Question 12: If you answer "yes", go to Part 6 and list the receipt number and start and end date of each previous EAD that you have received.
  • 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.
  • Question 13.b: If you have a number, provide it if you know it.
  • Question 14: If you don’t have a number, and want one, answer "yes".
  • Question 15: Indicate "yes" or "no" to this question
  • Question 16.a-17.b: If you want a card and number issued, you must provide the names of your parents.
  • Question 27: Enter (C) (5) [ignore the last box/parentheses]
  • A check or money order for the 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 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. 
  • Photocopy of any previously issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • Two identical color passport photographs, full face frontal view measuring 2 inches by 2 inches.
  • The head of the image should measure between 1 inch and 1 ⅜ inch. The photos should be recent, no more than 30 days old.
  • These photos can be taken at any place that takes good passport photos.
  • Print your name and I-94 number on the back of both photos.
  • Place photos in an envelope.
  • 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. Make a copy of your application before mailing it.