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J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization Document

J-2 dependents are eligible to apply for permission to work from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, also referred to as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The J-2 dependent may begin employment only after receiving the approved EAD from USCIS.

The regulation states that employment may not be granted when the earnings are to be used to support the J-1 visa holder. Rather, the earnings must be used for the “Family's customary recreational and cultural activities and those related travel”. Source: 8CFR 21A.2(j)(1) (v) (A)

Required Documents

  • USCIS Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization – Mark (c) (5) on item #16. Make sure you sign the form clearly and do not date until you are ready to mail your documents. Submit the appropriate fee. (Please check on the USCIS web site for the latest version of the form and the base fee.)
  • Two (2) photos meeting the specifications noted on Form I-765 instructions. Write your name and SEVIS number (found on the upper right corner of your Form DS-2019) on the back of the photos, lightly, with a pencil, put the photos in a small envelope and staple the envelope (not photos) to the Form I-765.
  • A photocopy of the personal data and photo page as well as the visa page in passport. Please note: Your passport must be valid.
  • A photocopy of the J-1 visa holder's paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions) and Form DS- 2019.
  • A photocopy of the J-2 visa holder's paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions) and Form DS-2019.
  • A written statement explaining that the J-2 employment is not necessary to support the J-1, but will be used for the needs of the J-2. We recommend that your statement include the following sentence: “The income derived from the desired employment will be used to support myself in cultural and recreational activities and not my J-1 spouse”.

Submitting the EAD Application to USCIS

Refer to the USCIS I-765 instructions for the correct USCIS mailing address. The address you use on the I-765 will determine to which USCIS service center you mail the application. The International Center does not recommend using the e-file option.

  • Within 2-3 weeks you should receive a notice confirming that your application has been received and informing you approximately how long the processing period is likely to be. You will receive a case number, which you may use to check updated information on the status of your application on the USCIS web site.
  • After your application has been processed, you will receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) which is a plastic, picture ID. You can then take the card to a Social Security Administration Office and apply for a Social Security card, which you can then use for employment purposes. In Ann Arbor, the Social Security Administration office is located at 3971 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Your EAD card will be valid up to the expiration date on the card. It can be extended further, provided the DS-2019 form for the J-1 and J-2 have not expired and the J-1 program is continuing. To extend your Employment Authorization, you will need to re-submit all of the above mentioned documents to USCIS and enclose a copy of both sides of your EAD card.

Last reviewed: 11/13