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J-2 Dependent Employment Authorization
Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors (J2) 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 area other than medicine, including professional positions and part-time casual positions. Any position that offers any form of compensation requires employment authorization - do not work in the U.S. in any capacity without work 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 Document (EAD) 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 Materials Include:
- Two photographs to USCIS specifications
- A check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security - for current fees, check USCIS.
- Original Form G-1145 to confirm receipt and obtain case number in advance of paper notification (optional)
- Original Form I-765 - for the most recent form version visit USCIS
- Eligibility code for J2 employment = (c) (5)
- A J-2 work permission letter (see sample in resources) 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
Visit the USCIS Direct Filing page to determine where you mail your application to USCIS, based on the J2 (c)(5) code.
Social Security numbers
Once you receive your EAD, you can begin working and should immediately apply for a Social Security number. This number is a tax identification and 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. For additional information, visit our SSN page.
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.