J-2 Work Authorization

General Information

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 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 4 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.


Application Procedures

For the most up-to-date forms, instructions, and official information, please visit the USCIS Website.

The following materials are needed to apply for an Employment Authorization Card:

  1.  Form 1-765, Application for Employment Authorization
    1.  Download latest version from USCIS website
    2.  Use “(c) (5)” for section 16 about Eligibility Category
  2.  Check or money order for $410 application fee
    1.  Checks should be payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
    2.  Cash will not be accepted for this payment
  3.  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 field of study, etc.)
    •  Statement of the source and amount of financial support that the J-1 scholar already has
    •  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 the employment is not needed to support the J-1. Please see this SAMPLE LETTER for an example of what this would look like.
  4. Copy of DS-2019 for J-1 (include all previously issued copies)
  5. Copy of DS-2019 for J-2 (include all previously issued copies)
  6. Copy of your I-94 arrival record (can be obtained and printed from CBP website)
  7. Copy of passport identification page
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.


We would be happy to look over your application once the above materials have been collected. Please contact Tim Edenfield at [email protected] to set up an appointment, or if you have questions.

Once you are ready to send in your application, clip everything together and mail it the correct address below, depending on which mail service you are using:

For USPS (regular mail):

PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067