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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.

For Certified Mail send to:
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Phoenix Lockbox
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ, 85036

For Express/Overnight Mail send to:
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Phoenix Lockbox, Attn AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ, 85034

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.