J-2 Work Authorization Guidelines


Dependents in J-2 status may be authorized to work in the U.S. as long as they obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Processing times for EAD cards vary and can take several months. Please go to USCIS Case Processing Times for up-to-date information. J-2 EAD authorizations are generally granted for one-year intervals or for the remaining validity of the DS-2019, whichever is shorter.

Employment (paid or unpaid) may not begin until the EAD is issued and in possession of the J-2 applicant.


  • J-2 dependents may work only after they have obtained their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from USCIS.
  • J-2 work authorization allows for part-time or full-time work at any job and for any employer.
  • Extension of the EAD card validity is possible up to the end date of the DS-2019. Please note that the extension process also takes several months, so it is important to plan ahead for employment to be continuous (without any gaps between work authorization periods).

Application Process

To apply for an EAD card, the following documents are required:

  • Form I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization”.
    This form must be typed or handwritten in black ink. Please note the following:
    • Make sure to mark one of the boxes where it asks, “I am applying for…”
    • #1. Enter the J-2 dependent’s entire name as it appears on their passport and DS-2019
    • #5. Enter the J-2 dependent’s address in the Santa Cruz area. If they might be moving and decide to use a friend’s address where their name is not on the mailbox, write the friend’s name in #5.a. Make sure the J-2 dependent’s name (or their friend’s name) is on the mailbox.
    • #21.a. Enter the eleven-digit number from the J-2 dependent’s electronic I-94 record or paper I-94 card.
    • #24 and #25. Enter “J-2 dependent”
    • #26. Enter the J-2 dependent’s SEVIS ID from their DS-2019, which is located in the top right corner
    • #27. Enter (c)(5)( )
  • J-2 Applicant Supporting DocumentsJ-1 Exchange Visitor Supporting Documents
    • Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s electronic I-94 Form
    • Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s passport
    • Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s visa in passport (not applicable for Canadians)
    • Photocopy of J-2 dependent’s DS-2019
    • Photocopy of previously issued EAD cards, if any
    • Photocopy of J-1 Exchange Visitor’s electronic I-94 Form
    • Photocopy of J-1 Exchange Visitor’s passport
    • Photocopy of J-1 Exchange Visitor’s visa stamp in passport (not applicable for Canadians)
    • Photocopy of J-1 Exchange Visitor’s DS-2019
  • Money order, personal check, or cashier’s check for the filing fee payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Note: U.S. Department of Homeland Security fees are subject to change. Visit the USCIS website for current fees.
  • passport photos. Print your name and I-94 number lightly in pencil on the back of each photo.
  • A letter (see sample on next page) from the J-2 applicant to the USCIS Service Center requesting work permission.

Example Letter

[Your name] [Your address ]


[USCIS address – refer to the address under Mailing Instructions below] Dear Sir or Madam:

With this letter, I am applying for employment authorization on the basis of my J-2 status. I am the dependent of [name], a J-1 [student or scholar] at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I want to work because [reason for employment] and to experience the workplace and culture in the United States. I declare that the money I earn will be used for cultural, recreational, and related travel activities and will not be used to support the principal J-1 visa holder.


[J-2 signature] [J-2 name]

Mailing Instructions

Once the packet is complete, send your application to USCIS Lockbox facilities. We strongly recommend you use a service that includes tracking and delivery confirmation.

Last modified: Jun 08, 2023