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J-2 work authorization

The J-2 dependent of an exchange visitor may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for work permission provided that such employment is not needed for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor.

Reasons to Apply

Some acceptable reasons to apply for J-2 work permission include:

  1. To earn extra living expenses for J-2 dependents.
  2. To enable the J-2 to obtain professional experience.
  3. To enable the J-2 to travel to the United States;.
  4. To allow the J-2 to obtain wider social and professional contacts.

As part of your application package, you must write a letter to the USCIS. Please review this sample letter. In your letter, you should mention:

  1. The reasons for wanting to work.
  2. The source and amount of support for the J-1 exchange visitor. You need to demonstrate that the J-1's income is sufficient to support himself/herself and provide the basic necessities of the family.
  3. Itemize the total monthly income and expenditures of the family in columns.
  4. Include the following statement: "Any income derived from my employment will be used for my support and not for that of my (husband/wife/parent)."

Completing the I-765 (J-2 Dependent)

Please use the most current version of this document, available on the USCIS website.

Please follow the I-765 instructions provided on the USCIS website, particularly page 15 - 19. For your reference, please see below for general guidelines to assist you.

  • Part 1.
    • If this is your first time applying, this is considered to be ‘initial permission to accept employment’.
  • Part 2.
    • Provide basic biographical information about yourself. Note: If using a friend or relative’s address, complete Question #5.a (In Care of Name).
    • Question #26 – provide your CURRENT SEVIS number, listed at the top right of your DS-2019. Note: SEVIS number for J-1 and J-2 are different. 
    • Question #27(C)(5) is the eligibility category for J-2 dependents.
  • Part 3.
    • Don’t forget to sign within the ‘Applicant’s Signature’ box. Signature should not touch or go beyond the space provided.
  • In general, Part 4 and Part 5 do not apply unless you are using an interpreter to assist with your application.
  • Part 6.
    • This section can be used to provide information on previously used SEVIS numbers and to indicate attached files such as previous EAD, approval notice and DS-2019s.
    • Example: Page 3. Section 2. Number 27.
      • List previously used SEVIS numbers (if applicable) and indicate “previous J-2 work authorization documents attached.”
  • Put ‘N/A’ if a question does not apply to you.
  • You must complete and submit ALL 7 pages with your application.

Send the following documents by certified mail with a return receipt requested or by express/overnight mail (be sure to make photocopies of all documents sent to the USCIS for your records):

  • I-765 filing fee currently $410 payable to “U.S Department of Homeland Security”.
    • Always check the USCIS forms page to make sure you are using the latest form version and paying the correct fee.
    • I-765 filing fee is payable by personal check, money order OR credit card payment with use of form G-1450.
  • Two identical immigration-style photos taken within 30 days of filing Form I-765. Photos must have white to off-white background, be printed on thin paper with a glossy finish, and be unmounted and unretouched. Lightly print your NAME and SEVIS ID on the back of the photos. Place photos in a clear Ziploc-type bag. For more photo guidelines, visit the U.S State department website. ISSS recommends photos be taken professionally/locally to comply with photo regulations.
  • Copy of J-1 DS-2019 and J-2 DS-2019.
  • Letter showing your budget and requesting work permission.
  • Documentation of your finances as shown in the budget in your letter. If your funds come from a personal sponsor, you must include a Form I-134 Affidavit of Support completed by your personal sponsor.
  • Photocopies of any previous employment authorization documents (EAD cards) if applicable.
  • Form I-765 Instructions also state that the applicant must use Form I-765 Part 6., Additional Information, to provide:
    • "All previously used SEVIS numbers", if applicable
    • Evidence of any previous work authorization.
  • Photocopy of J-1 and J-2 Form I-94 (both sides of cardstock I-94 or copy of electronic Form I-94 printout).
  • Photocopies of the following passport pages for BOTH J-1 and J-2:
    • Passport ID pages: photo page, page with passport validity dates, including renewal page if original has expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections, etc.
    • J-1/J-2 visa page (if any).

You may also include the optional form G-1145 e-Notification of Application to receive a confirmation that your application has been received by USCIS. Note: this is NOT your official receipt notice.

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
Attn: NFB
P.O. Box 805371
Chicago, IL 60680-5371

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: NFB (Box 805371)
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Important Notes

  1. If you have general questions while filling out your application, please contact ISSS for more information.
    IMPORTANT: ISSS cannot review the entire application for accuracy before it is mailed in to USCIS. This is the responsibility of the J-2 applicant.
  2. It is very important that you use a mailing address that will be current some time into the future when you make your application for J-2 work permission. Correspondence from USCIS cannot be forwarded.
  3. You will receive an Employment Authorization Document from USCIS. This is your J-2 work permission. You may not begin employment until you receive your EAD and the date listed on your EAD card has arrived.