J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization

Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors may apply for employment authorization from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) at any point during their stay as long as the compensation they receive will not be used to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor.

A job offer is not required and the employment may be of any nature other than medicine, including professional positions and part-time casual positions. Any position that offers any form of compensation requires employment authorization.

There is an application fee, and processing by USCIS takes approximately three months. No employment can begin until employment has been authorized and the Employment Authorization Card (EAC) has been received. Any income earned is subject to federal, state, and social security taxes. Employment authorization can be granted for up to one year or until the end date of the J-1 principal’s program, whichever is earlier. Extensions can be filed each year for up to three more years as long as the J-1 Exchange Visitor continues to maintain valid status.

Application Includes:

  1. A letter to the USCIS Vermont Service Center outlining the following:
    • The reason you wish to work in the U.S. (such as professional development, education, or to earn money for a family vacation)
    • The source and amount of your spouse’s financial support
    • A brief budget of your family expenses to prove that your current resources are adequate without income from your future employment
    • A clear statement that income from your earnings will not be used to support your spouse
  2. A $340 check or money order payable to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
  3. A photocopy of your spouse’s Form DS-2019 (current and previous)
  4. A photocopy of your spouse’s I-94 (arrival/departure record)
  5. A photocopy of your I-94 (arrival/departure record)
  6. A photocopy of your marriage certificate
  7. Two photographs to USCIS specifications

Send these documents to:

USCIS Vermont Service Center
75 Lower Welden Street
St. Albans, VT 05479-9765

Once you receive your EAC, you can begin working and should immediately apply for a Social Security number. This number is required in order for an employer to pay you. To apply for a Social Security number, you must go in person to a local Social Security office and present:

  1. Your EAC
  2. Your spouse’s Form DS-2019
  3. Your passport & I-94 (arrival/departure record).

Details on the Social Security number application process are available at the Glavin Office (Hollister 220).

Your employer will withhold any applicable federal, state, and Social Security taxes. The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31; tax forms are due April 15 of the following year.