If you have J-2 immigration status, you can apply directly to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for work authorization. If you obtain work authorization, you will receive a card, known as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The work authorization will be valid for 12 months or until the expiration of your J-1’s DS-2019—whichever is sooner. Do not begin work until you receive authorization.
J-2 Work Authorization
Report J-2 information
Department of State regulations require you to notify the Office of International Services regarding your dependent(s) in the following two cases:
- If your J-2 dependent(s) get a new email address:
- Log in to iStart and complete the Report J-2 Email Address Change e-form within 10 days of any email address update or new email address.
- If your J-2 dependent(s) will depart the United States before you (the J-1) will depart the United States:
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to apply for work authorization
You should apply for employment authorization by mail. When applying, you will need to include the following items:
- A U.S. $410 check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- A completed Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). The I-765 form can be downloaded from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For question #16 use code (c)(5) for J-2 work authorization.
- Two passport-style photos with your name and date of birth printed in pencil on the back
- Photocopy of the J-1’s and J-2’s DS-2019s
- Photocopy of the name page and photo page of your passport
- Personal statement. The statement must be signed and dated and must state:
- The reason you want to work
- That the J-1 has adequate funds to cover his/her studies and living expenses
- That any income that you earn will not be used to support the J-1
- Photocopies of any past EAD card(s)
- Photocopies of the J-1’s and J-2’s I-94 cards/printouts
If mailing from an Indiana address, send your application and supporting documents to:USCIS
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For express mail and courier deliveries:USCIS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Tips for your application
- Keep a photocopy of your application.
- Bring your application to the Office of International Services (OIS) for review if you would like assistance.
- Include a job offer letter with your application if you have one. It may help expedite the processing of your application.
We’re here to help
We know you may have questions about J-2 work authorization, so we have put together a list of common questions that many students have.
- How long does the process take?
It takes USCIS about three months to process these applications. About three weeks after receiving your application, USCIS will send you a Receipt Notice. This is an official notice that it has received your application and are working on it. On the Receipt Notice there is a Receipt Number (like a tracking number for your application) and Receipt Date (the date CIS received your application). About three months from the Receipt Date you should receive your EAD. Remember, you must wait until you receive the EAD (card) to begin work.
- Do I have to have a Social Security number to apply for the EAD?
No. In fact, as a J-2 you cannot obtain a Social Security number until you have received your EAD. When you receive your EAD, go to the Social Security Administration office with your passport, I-94, DS-2019, and EAD and apply for a Social Security number.
- Do I have to have a job offer to apply for J-2 work authorization?
No. J-2 work authorization is an open work authorization. You may work full or part time, for as many employers as you like. Your employer does not need to sponsor you for this work authorization; however, if he/she provides a job offer letter, it may speed up the processing of your application.
- If I already have J-2 work authorization but it is expiring, what should I do?
You need to apply for it again. You will also need to include a photocopy of your current EAD (front and back) and should include an employment letter if you will continue your current employment.
Note: You should apply approximately four months prior to the expiration of your current EAD to ensure that your new card arrives in time to allow you to continuously work. Once the current work authorization (EAD) expires, you can’t work until you receive the new one.
- My DS-2019 will expire this year and the J-1 is planning to extend it. How does this affect me?
If possible, you should wait to apply for work authorization until the DS-2019 has been extended. The reason for that is that USCIS will grant your work authorization for a maximum of 12 months or until the expiration of your DS-2019, whichever is sooner (for example, if your DS-2019 expires in seven months, USCIS will give you work authorization that expires in seven months).
- How many times can I renew my work authorization?
You may renew your work authorization as long as you are in J-2 status. There is no limit to the number of applications/renewals that you can make.