J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employment authorization, so long as the employment is not for supporting the J-1. Financial need is not a criterion for employment authorization of a J-2 dependent.
“Income from the spouse’s or dependent’s employment may be used to support the family’s customary recreational and cultural activities and related travel, among other things. Employment will not be authorized if this income is needed to support the J-1 principal alien.” 8 C.F.R. S 214.2(j)(1)(v)(A)
Applications for employment authorization are made to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the J-2’s place of residence. Processing generally takes three months.
J-2 dependents who wish to apply for Employment Authorization should submit the following to USCIS:
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
- Check or money order for $410.00 made payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
- Please Note: USCIS published a final fee rule on Aug. 3, 2020, that was to become effective 60 days later, on Oct. 2, 2020. The rule specified: “Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must be accompanied with the fees established by this final rule.” However, on Sept. 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction and stay on implementation of the 2020 final USCIS fee rule. New fees and form versions and other changes associated with the final fee rule that was to be effective on Oct. 2, 2020, are now on hold.
- Two passport-style photos (available through many pharmacies e.g. CVS, Walgreens).
- Copies of the current DS-2019s of both the J-1 and J-2.
- Copy of passport information pages, visa pages, and I-94s (back and front) for both the J-1 and J-2.
- Letter from J-2 stating why the employment is desired, indicating the source and amount of financial support for the J-1, and specifically stating that the income the J-2 will derive from employment will not be used for the support of the J-1 exchange visitor.