Dependent and Spouse Employment

J-2 dependents—the spouses of J-1 students and exchange visitors—can work full or part time. They must file form I-765 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card before they begin a job.

How the EAD Card Process Works

When you have entered the United States, request employment authorization by mail.

  • Collect the required application documents on the Applications Checklist.
  • Be sure to photocopy your entire application for your own records.
  • Mail all required documents to the USCIS Service Center.
  • Wait for authorization. It may take three months. But do not accept employment until you have received the EAD.

Application materials checklist

  • Completed Form I-765
    Always download and use the most recent I-765 directly from the government website. Using an outdated form will result in your application being returned or rejected.
  • Check or money order for $380 payable to the Department of Homeland Security
    If you use a check, it must have your name and address printed on it. Temporary checks like those used for newly opened accounts are not accepted.
  • Letter to USCIS explaining reason requesting employment authorization. View a sample letter.
  • Copies of both J-1 and J-2 DS-2019s
    Do not send the originals.
  • Copy of J-2 visa stamp in passport
  • Copy of J-2s biographical page in passport
  • Copies of both J-1 and J-2 I-94 records
    Do not send the originals.
  • Two US passport-style photos, with your name and I-94 number printed on the back of each
    You can get your photos taken at IPS for $10 from noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in Administration Building Room 200.
  • Copies of any previously issued EAD card, if re-applying for J-2 employment authorization

You Need to Know

The time period that people with J-2 status are authorized to work is limited to the dates documented by USCIS on the EAD card. The end-date usually matches the expiration date of the J-1 principal visitor's DS-2019.

You are required to apply for a Social Security Number when you receive a job offer and go to work.