J-2 Employment Authorization

J-2 dependents are eligible to work in the U.S. as long as they meet certain conditions first.

J-2 dependent Work Eligibility

J-2 dependents can work in the U.S. as long as you meet certain conditions first. You must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Also, your employment must not be for the purpose of supporting your J-1 spouse. 

Work Authorization Limitations

When can I start working?

You cannot start working until you receive your EAD card from the USCIS. You are eligible to work as long as the EAD card is valid (meaning the work authorization dates on the card have not expired, your J-1’s status has not expired and your J-1 has not left the U.S. except for a temporary visit.) 

Are there any limits on the number of hours I can work?

No. While the EAD card is valid, you are eligible to work full or part-time.

Are there any limits on where I can work and the kind of work I can engage in?

No. You can work on-campus or off-campus in any field of work.

Application Process

Submit the following documents to USCIS:

  • Completed original Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) 
    • Form I-765 (fillable online
      • In Item 16, write, “ (c) (5) ()” [last parentheses left blank] 
    • Be sure that the address you use on your Form I-765 is an address where you will receive mail in 3-4 months.  If you change your address before receiving your EAD, you may not receive the card at the new address.
  • Form G-1145(E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance)
  • Application fee of $410.
    • This should be a check (from a U.S. bank) or a U.S. money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.
    • Write the 11-digit number from your I-94 on your check or money order.
    • Don’t forget to sign and date the check. 
    • You can find an example check for reference.
  • Photocopy of J-1’s valid DS-2019
  • Photocopy of J-2’s valid DS-2019
  • Photocopy of the front and back of the J-1’s newest I-94 card OR print-out of electronic I-94 (available on CBP's page).
  • Photocopy of the front and back of the J-2s newest I-94 card OR print-out of electronic I-94 (available here).
  • Photocopy of J-1’s valid passport biographic page and J-1 visa stamp 
  • Photocopy of J-2’s valid passport biographic page and J-2 visa stamp 
  • Photocopy of your marriage certificate, translated into English 
  • Photocopy of any previous EAD cards (if you have applied before)
  • Two (2) identical natural color photographs of yourself, taken within 30 days of your application and not previously used for another purpose.
    • Please review the specifications for the photos.  
    • If your photos do not meet USCIS requirements exactly, your EAD card will not be issued.
    • In pencil, write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo.
    • Photos can be taken at most drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid).
  • A letter from the J-2 requesting employment authorization and stating why the employment is desired.
    • Refer to the sample letter for guidance.
    • The letter should state why you want to work and provide evidence that your income will not be used to support your J-1. 
    • It is a good idea to include a budget or a statement of expenses as well.

Be sure to photocopy your entire Employment Authorization application for your personal records.

Where do I send my Employment Authorization application?

Visit the USCIS I-765 Direct Filing Address for the current lockbox mailing address. Be sure to click on "Foreign Students".

You should use a reliable, express delivery service (e.g. UPS, FedEx) to mail your application. Utilizing an express delivery service will enable you to track your application and its delivery. Please save your receipt.

USCIS Processing Times

Processing time at the USCIS is estimated to be 6-12 weeks. However, processing times vary widely depending on the time of year and the workload at the Service Center to which you send your application. You can check the USCIS website for current processing times.

You cannot begin employment until you have received your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS and the “start date” printed on the EAD card is effective. 

Contacting USCIS

Planning to contact USCIS? Be sure to review their tip sheet to help make your communication with USCIS as effective as possible.

>USCIS Contact Center Tip Sheet

Duration of Work Authorization

The USCIS can issue an EAD for a long as four years or for the duration of the J-1’s program, whichever period is shorter. However, the USCIS has the authority to issue the EAD for a shorter period of time. The validity of the EAD card may not exceed the J-1’s program termination date or end date—even though it is still valid on its face.

EAD Card Expiration

If your EAD card expires, you will have to stop working until you receive a new EAD card.

Extending Your Work Authorization

In order to avoid any interruption in J-2 employment authorization, it is important to submit a new Form I-765 request to the USCIS prior to the expiration of your current EAD, if you are eligible. The earliest you can submit your application is 120 days before the end date on your current EAD card.

If your DS-2019 will expire at the same time as the EAD card, and your J-1 spouse has not yet completed their academic program, then the J-1 must apply for and receive an extension of stay. Once a new DS-2019 is issued, the J-2 spouse can apply to extend their work authorization.

Applying for a Social Security Card

When you receive your EAD card, you will be able to apply for a Social Security Card. For more information on applying for a Social Security Card our SSN page

Paying Taxes

In addition to paying federal and state income taxes, you will also have to pay Social Security taxes.