Rules for J-2 Dependents

If you are a J-1 exchange visitor, your spouse and unmarried minor children less than age 21 are eligible for J-2 dependent status. Each J-2 dependent must have a separate DS-2019.  Complete an Add Dependent form and submit it via this Google form along with the required supporting documents (passports of your dependents, proof of funds, and Certificate of Finances form). We return the approved forms to the J-1 exchange visitor, who signs a J-2 dependent DS-2019 for each family member. 

Dependents do not necessarily have to enter on a J-2 dependent visa. They may come to the United States as tourists or in other visa classes if they qualify. For shorter visits — three months or less — a tourist visa may be the most appropriate choice.

Improving English communication skills after coming to Michigan Tech

J-2 dependents who wish to improve their English communication skills may join the Elaine Bacon Literacy Program. The Program is compiled of individual one-on-one classes as well as conversations with a "conversation partner". Please visit the Elaine Bacon website for scheduling classes and for further information.

About Employment

J–2 dependents need permission to work from US Citizenship and Immigration Services. They are eligible to apply to USICS for employment authorization as long as their work will not be used to financially support the J-1 exchange visitor. J-2 dependents cannot begin work until they receive a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

  • When you have your EAD, you can apply for a Social Security Number, which is also legally required to work in the United States.
  • J-2 dependents cannot be unpaid volunteers in positions where others receive compensation to perform the same services.
  • If the J-1 scholar is funded by a third party (i.e., NOT their personal funds) or by their home country, you (the J-2 dependent) need the sponsor's approval first if you wish to get any sort of employment. You must show us some sort of written communication or documentation showing that the sponsor is aware of your would-be employment and they approve of it.

To apply for employment authorization, you must file the Form I-765 on the USCIS website. USCIS recommends filing your application online to ensure smooth processing. In order to file your application online, you must first create an account with USCIS. You may also choose to paper file your application (you would need to download the form from the USCIS website, fill it manually, and mail it to USCIS along with the other relevant documents mentioned below).

Document checklist

  • Properly filled and signed Form I-765 (this is only if you are paper filing; for online filing option, you need to fill the form online)
  • Statement of Request for J-2 Work Permission (See this example from UC Berkeley)
  • $410 money order payable to the US Department of Homeland Security, for paper filing. Note that this fee may change and it is your responsibility to verify the fee from the USCIS website before making the payment. For online filing, you would need to use a credit/debit (credit preferred) with a billing address in the USA.
  • Copies of all DS-2019s (current as well as previous ones, if any), for both the J-1 scholar AND the J-2 dependent
  • For paper-filing, 2 passport-sized photos taken within 30 days. For online filing, you need the jpeg or jpg version of the photo. You can have your photo clicked at the IPS office for a fee of 20$ (or 10$ for children under 10 years of age). Click here to purchase the IPS passport photo service.

Important things to keep in mind while filling the form

  • The I-94 information that you need to fill in can be found online. Note that for the "place of arrival", you need to input whatever place is mentioned on your I-94, even if that is not in the USA.
  • For the Category in question 27, you should enter (c)(5).
  • Travel document number is not the same as your passport number. The passport number is asked separately. You are likely to leave the field for travel document number blank.
  • The A-number is applicable only for immigrants and/or green card holders. Leave that field blank.
  • If you are paper-filing, you MUST mail ALL PAGES of the I-765 form even if they are blank.
  • You can refer to the instructions for filling the form for F-1 students for Post-Completion OPT or STEM Extension OPT. Since those instructions are for F-1 students, all the information will not be relevant from the point of view of a J-2 dependent. However, some basic information and instructions should be the same. Please contact our office if you need further help regarding filling the application.

After submitting the application

  • USCIS will send a Receipt Notice, called an I-797C, within two to four weeks, to the address you have listed on your I-765 application . You must keep this receipt; it is needed for the STEM-OPT extension and H-1B processing.
  • You can track the progress of your application on the USCIS website
  • If you listed IPS as the mailing address on your I-765, we will email you scanned copies of the receipt notice, approval notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) as and when they arrive. Do not call IPS or email as soon as you get a notification from USCIS saying your document(s) has arrived. We process all of your documents before you are allowed to receive them; be patient, this can take 3-5 business days after we receive the document(s).
  • If you had listed your address or a friend/relative's address, you MUST email ALL of your documents to . THIS IS A MANDATORY STEP in order for us to properly maintain your SEVIS records.

You cannot begin work until you have the EAD card AND your start date has arrived. Your employment start date is printed on your EAD card. The start date is your requested start date OR the date USCIS approves the application, whichever occurs later. Please note, start dates cannot be changed under any circumstances, even if your employer asks you to do so.

Study in J-2 Status

J-2 dependents can also be part- or full-time students at US universities. Children in J-2 status can attend public schools.

If you Travel

  • Carry a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of the re-entry to the US
  • Carry a valid J-1 visa (does not apply to Canadian citizens)
  • Carry a DS-2019 with a valid travel endorsement from IPS

Do Residency Rules Affect J-2 Status?

If the J-1 Exchange Visitor is subject to the two-year home residency requirement, so are his or her J-2 dependents. Although J-2 dependents must fulfill the requirement on their own, if the J-1 exchange visitor receives a waiver, J-2 dependents are also released from the rule to return home for at least two years.