J-2 Employment Authorization

J-2 visa holders (the spouse and dependent children of J-1’s) may apply to the Department of Homeland Security for permission to work in the United States. Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations, part 214.2(j)(1)(v) states that, “income from the spouse’s or dependent’s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.”

How to Apply

To apply for J-2 work authorization, you will need to print out and complete the Form I-765; after completing the form, please make an appointment with the ISSS Office for its review.

After Form I-765 is reviewed, put your application together in the following order:

  • Check or money order, payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”
  • 2 passport-sized pictures
  • J-2 Request of Employment Letter (see SAMPLE below)
  • Form I-765: (form & instructions)
    • NOTE:  The answer to question 16 is (c) (5)
  • Photocopy of J-2’s DS-2019, passport statistics page, visa, and I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Photocopy of J-1’s DS-2019, passport statistics page, visa, and I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
  • Copies of any previous employment authorization documents (EAD’s)

The address to mail your work request packet can also be found online.

After the documents are received at the appropriate Service Center, you will receive a Notice of Action (Form I-797); do not lose this Notice of Action.

NOTE: It can take approximately 90 days or more to receive a work authorization decision.  You cannot begin work until you receive your EAD card, and you can only work for the time frame authorized on your card.

Applying for renewal of your work authorization

If you currently have J-2 work authorization and need to apply for a renewal, you may apply up to 120 days before the expiration of your current EAD. If you are planning to remain with the same employer and do not want a break in your employment, it is important to apply early. You must provide all the same documents as you did in your original application, plus a copy of the front & back of your previous EAD card(s).

Social Security Numbers & Taxes

Anyone who earns money in the United States must have a social security number for taxpayer identification purposes. The Office of International Student & Scholar Services can provide you with instructions on applying for a social security number. J-2 employees are not eligible for tax treaty benefits and will pay social security & medicare taxes. J-2 dependents are also required to file taxes every year.


J-2 Employment Sample Letter

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