International Students

J-2 Work Authorization

General information

J-2 dependents—both spouses and minor children—may be granted permission to work by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provided it can be demonstrated that the income from such employment is not for the support of the J-1 student or scholar. In order to obtain work permission, the J-2 dependent must state, and ideally show evidence, that there are already sufficient funds to cover the educational and living expenses of the J-1 student or scholar and dependents. For example, employment may be used to support the family's customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things.

Note that it is against the law to work without permission from USCIS—the J-2 dependent must apply for and receive an EAD card before work may begin. Work is only allowed within the dates printed on the EAD. Also be aware that income earned by J-2 dependents is subject to Federal, State and Social Security taxes.

View answers to frequently asked questions.

Application procedure

The J-2 must submit a paper I-765 form and supporting documentation by mail to USCIS. Note that the I-765 was updated as of July 2018, to a version expiring 5/31/2020. USCIS’s instructions on filing the I-765 can be found at this link. Below is the full list of documents that should be included in the application.

It is strongly recommended that the J-2 and/or the J-1 student or scholar meet with an immigration coordinator at the Office of International Affairs to review all materials and discuss the procedure before mailing.

Materials to include:

For where to mail your application, see the filing addresses page of the USCIS website. This link shows the addresses for the USCIS lockbox locations where J-2 I-765 applications are sent. If you are listing an Ohio address on the I-765, you will send your application to the lockbox in Phoenix, AZ.

Within approximately two weeks of when your application is mailed, you should receive a paper I-797 receipt notice to the mailing address you listed on the I-765. This is a very important document that you should retain. The notice will show your receipt number, which you can use to track the status of your case on this page of the USCIS website. If you included the Form G-1145, you should also receive an e-mail or text message with your receipt number.

You can expect a response from USCIS within 3-4 months of when your application is receipted. If the work authorization is approved, USCIS will issue the J-2 an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and mail it to the address indicated on Form I-765. It is a plastic card, approximately the size of a driver’s license. If the application is denied, USCIS will reply indicating reason(s) for denial.

Important Note: The name of the J-2 dependent must be on the mailbox or the Postal Service will not deliver the card. Also, mail from USCIS may not be forwarded to a new address by the Postal Service—you must notify USCIS of any address changes directly online. OIA recommends avoiding an address change while the application is pending, whenever possible.