This page is intended to provide information for J-2 dependents regarding benefits, eligibility and other information specific to the J-2 visa.
For additional information and resources about daily life, including topics such as schools, housing and transportation, please see our International Families main page.
Eligibility & Regulations
- The J-2 dependent visa is available to the legal spouse and/or children of the J-1 principal. Children of the J-1 Exchange Visitor must be under the age of 21 and unmarried. The J-2 status is dependent upon the status on the status of the J-1 Exchange Visitor. The J-2 visa will generally be issued for the same period of time as the J-1 program period.
- J-2 dependents are allowed to travel internationally and re-enter the United States in their J-2 status separately from the J-1 principal, provided that they have a valid J-2 visa and DS-2019 form signed for international travel (please contact ISSS to request a travel signature). However, as their immigration status is dependent upon that of the J-1 principal, they should not remain in the United States for any extended period of time if the J-1 principal has departed the country.
- Please note that adult children of J-1 Exchange Visitors are no longer eligible to hold J-2 status once they have reached 21 years of age. At that point, those wishing to remain in the United States including other domestic partners and close family members who do not satisfy the definition may be eligible to apply for a B-2 Visitor Visa (for Tourism purposes).
- Same-sex Spouses and J-2 Status: Marriage is recognized in the United States for issuance of derivative nonimmigrant visas if the marriage is "recognized in the place of celebration," which has been a long-standing policy in immigration law. Since 2016, that standard has also been extended to same-sex marriages.
Add a Dependent (for J-1 Students)
- The primary visa holder should log into iStart.
- J1 students, complete the "DS-2019 and Passport Update Request" e-form
- If you have questions about the financial requirements or technical questions using iStart, please contact your ISSS Advisor.
- When your e-form is complete and submitted an ISSS advisor will review and process the information to create a J-2 form DS-2019 for your dependent. You will be notified when the forms are ready in 3-5 business days.
- Then, you can send the DS-2019 to your spouse or child(ren) in your home country.
- Your dependents can then make a visa appointment in their home country.
- Note: As of Nov.1, 2016 eyeglasses are no longer allowed in visa photos. For more information please see the US Dept. of State U.S. Visas page.
- After your dependent obtains the visa, he or she can travel to the U.S.
- Within 30 days after your dependent's arrival, you will need to arrange for health insurance. If you are currently insured by Georgia State Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), you can apply for dependent insurance coverage at additional cost. If you are covered by a different insurance company, contact your provider to inquire about possible options. For more information on insurance for dependents please see the Health Insurance information on the ISSS website.
Study in J-2 Status
There is no regulatory restriction on study for J-2 dependents. J-2 dependents wishing to pursue study at the university level are permitted to study full-time, with no additional authorization needed from an immigration standpoint. Children holding J-2 status are eligible to enroll in local schools.
Visit the Georgia Department of Education website for more information regarding school enrollment.
Please note that J-2 dependents pursuing studies at the university or graduate level are not eligible to receive positions such as Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) or Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) unless they have first applied for and received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Please see the "Work Authorization for J-2 Dependents" section for more information on how to request this authorization.
Work Authorization for J-2 Dependents
- In order to engage in employment in the United States, J-2 visa holders must obtain a work permit from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), known as an EAD card. Employment may not begin until the J-2 has received the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This process may take three months or more, so the applicant should plan to apply well in advance of the anticipated employment start date.
- Those seeking this authorization must hold valid J-2 status and the J-1 Exchange Visitor must hold valid J-1 status, as indicated on the I-94 record. As a matter of governmental regulation, the income from J-2 employment should not be used to support their J-1 spouse or parent and this must be indicated in a letter sent to USCIS. Please see the Application Procedures section for more information.
- J-2 dependents may only begin working after receiving the Employment Authorization Document from USCIS. Once obtained, the EAD allows the J-2 dependent to work in any job or combination of jobs, full-time or part-time. Please note that exceptions include that the J-2 may not practice medicine, even if holding a license. There is no limit to the amount of money that may be earned by the J-2. However, once again, the J-2’s income should not be used to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor.
- Employment is only permitted for the period of time indicated on the EAD. Extensions of the EAD are possible, up until the end date on the DS-2019. Current USCIS practice is to issue EAD cards for J-2s for only a year, no matter the length of time on their DS-2019. It is recommended that, in their letter, J-2 holders applying for the EAD card request employment authorization for the full time for which their DS-2019 is valid, which has sometimes shown to be successful. In the event that the EAD card will expire and the J-2 wishes to continue working beyond this, they may apply for a renewal if their primary (J-1) still has time left on their DS-2019. This can be applied for 6 months before the current EAD will expire.
- International travel is not advised while an application for the J-2 EAD is pending at USCIS. The application could be denied because the applicant does not hold a U.S. immigration status while abroad and therefore might be found ineligible for any status-associated benefits, including the EAD. It is recommended that applicants plan ahead for this waiting period.
The following materials are needed to apply for an Employment Authorization Card:
- Form 1-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Download latest version from USCIS website
- Use “(c) (5)” for section 16 about Eligibility Category
- Personal check or U.S. money order in the amount of current I-765 filing fee made payable to Department of Homeland Security. The current I-765 filing fee can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765.
- A letter written by the J-2 dependent, including the following information:
- Explanation of why employment is desired (for example recreational activities, cultural activities, development of professional expertise in the field of study, etc.)
- Statement of the source and amount of financial support that the J-1 scholar already has
- A statement that the money earned from employment will not be used to support the J-1 scholar
- Note: if there is any implication that the J-2 employment will be used to support the J-1, the application for employment will be denied.
- Recommended: it is a good idea to include a summary of your monthly budget/expenses, in order to show that employment is not needed to support the J-1. Please see this Sample Letter for an example of what this would look like.
- Copy of DS-2019 for J-2 AND J-1(include all previously issued copies)
- Copy of visa stamp for J-2 and J-1
- Copy of I-94 arrival records for J-2 and J-1 (can be obtained and printed from CBP website)
- Copy of passport identification pages for J-2 and J-1
- Copy of your marriage certificate
- If not in English, enclose a translated copy. The translation can be done by yourself or by someone else.
- Any translation should include a statement that the person translating the document is fluent in both English and the other language and they certify that the translation is true and accurate. (Please see Example Letter)
- Two identical, color passport-style photographs
- Should show face frontal view, and measure 2 by 2 inches.
- It is recommended to have these taken at a location that normally issues photographs intended for passports (such as CVS, Walgreens, etc.).
- Photos should be recent, no more than 30 days old.
- Write your name and I-94 number on the back of both photos, and place them in an envelope with your name and I-94 written on it.
Where to File: Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for Foreign Students can be found on the USCIS website.
One such agency is the Georgia Department of Labor. Locate a Career Center near you.
ISSS is committed to maintaining support and services to you during this time and will continue to operate under normal operating procedures for the remainder of the semester, just from a remote and online platform. This means you can call us directly or email us to request information and/or telephone/web appointments for advisement during our regular advisement hours.