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J-2 dependent family members 14 or older may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to accept employment on the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; a job offer is not required and a Social Security Number (SSN) can also be requested with this form.  If approved, the J-2 will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with no work restrictions. The EAD is an identification card with your photograph, signature, and expiration date of your permission to work; the EAD is not valid for traveling outside the U.S. and re‑entering. The employment must not be used to support the J-1 principal or the J-2 dependent(s), however, as regulations require the J-1 have enough funds to support themselves and any dependents without requiring family members to work. It is taking USCIS 4 to 13 months to issue an EAD, both initial and extension, and one is not allowed to work based on a receipt notice evidencing application for the EAD, so plan accordingly.

Note that any work done on U.S. soil will require an EAD, even if the employer and/or payment mechanism is abroad.  Minor children interested in working are also subject to additional state requirements.

Application Process

Guidelines for cover letter

The cover letter needs to include the following:

  • Statement that you are the J-2 dependent of a scholar (include the J-1 principal’s name) and that you wish to apply for employment authorization.
  • The source and amount of the J-1’s financial support.
  • The reason you wish to be employed (e.g.: to cover travel expenses for touring, to keep your skill sets maintained, to learn new sets of skills).
  • A statement that any income earned is not needed for the support of the J-1 student/scholar.

Guidelines for Completing Form I-765 

  • Be sure to download the current form at Do not use an outdated version.
  • At “I am applying for:” in first section of form, Check “Permission to accept employment” box for initial application, or check “Renewal of my permission to accept employment” if requesting to renew EAD card.
Guidelines for application package
  • Gather all your documents and be sure to clearly label J-1 documents and J-2 documents. 
  • Remember to keep photocopies of your entire application packet for your records.

Mailing Your EAD Application

USCIS is constantly updating their requirements, please verify the requirements on the USCIS website 

The following items should be included in the mail the package to the USCIS Service Center at the address listed below:

  • A cover letter requesting work permission (see sample)
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
  • Copy of J-2 dependent’s immigration documents:
    • I-94 record (front & back if you have a paper card)
    • DS-2019 form
    • Passport
    • Visa stamp in passport
    • I-797 Approval Notice (for dependents who have changed their status to J-2 within the U.S.)
  • Copy of J-1 immigration documents:
      • I-94 record (front & back if you have a paper card)
      • DS-2019 form
      • Passport
      • J-1 Visa stamp in passport
      • I-797 Approval Notice (for principals who have changed their status to J-1 within the U.S.)
  • Copy of J-1 principal’s funding documentation (e.g, bank statement, fellowship letter, employment verification, etc.)
  • Copy of marriage certificate (any document containing foreign language to USCIS must be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator's certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language to English)
  • Check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” verify the amount on the USCIS website prior to making the check as the amount may change
  • Two U.S.-style passport photos
  • Copy of current EAD card (front & back) if you are applying for an extension


Please see mailing addresses at 

If you would like to receive and e-mail and/or text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted, complete a Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Pending EAD Application

USCIS will send a receipt confirming that they received your application within 7-10 business days. Your receipt will typically begin with three letters followed by numbers.  Keep the original receipt in a safe place. This is the only way to track your application.

Checking the Status of your application
You can check the status of your EAD application at the USCIS Web site. You will need to enter the WAC number on your USCIS receipt. Go to:

Extension of EAD

The USCIS can authorize J-2 employment until the end date on Form DS-2019.  You may apply for an extension to work longer if the Form DS-2019 is extended.
You should request an extension of your EAD at least four months before it expires because you may not continue to legally work if your EAD card has expired, even if you have filed an extension with USCIS.

Sample Cover Letter

(your street address)
(city, state, zip code)
(today’s date)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(street address)
(city, state, zip code)

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to apply for J-2 work permission.
I am the J-2 dependent of [_____________] (give spouse’s or parent’s name), a J-1 [_________] (student/researcher/professor) at the University of California, San Diego.  As my spouse’s (or parent’s) DS-2019 shows, s/he receives [_______] (give amount, for example $20,000 per year) in support from [___________] (give source).  This shows that we have enough money to support my [spouse/parent].
I would like to earn money to pay for [e.g., my extensive dental work; or need money for the children’s piano/gymnastic/aquatic lessons; to attend the San Diego symphony/the Charger’s football games to experience American culture; to attend professional conferences in the U.S.; we, as a family, would like to travel to see the Grand Canyon].

Any income I earn will not be used for support of my husband/wife/parent.


(your signature)
(your name)