Employment Overview for Dependents (Spouses/Partners)

Some spouses are eligible to apply for a work permit.

Employment Overview
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Fee Increase

The USCIS filing fee for the OPT application I-765 is increasing to $410 on December 23, 2016 (from $380).

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Spouse/ Partners Employment Overview

Only certain visa types are eligible to work

* H-4 can apply for permission to work only when a permanent residency petition based on the H-1B’s employment at Columbia has been pending for a year or more.

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How to Apply for J-2 Work Permission

You will need to apply to USCIS for an EAD Card (Employment Authorization Document). The EAD allows you to work in any job, full-time or part-time. The instructions on this page will tell you how to get one.

How to apply for J-2 work permission
Step 1.

Mail your J-2 application to USCIS via FedEx or UPS. 

If you would like to ensure your application and forms are complete, one of our advisors can review your application materials and answer any questions you may have.

Application Checklist:

Mailing Instructions

To avoid mailing problems, send your application by FedEx or UPS to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facilities.

If you list a mailing address on the I-765 in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania must send the application to:

USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Send your application to the Dallas lockbox.

If you live in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia, 

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Send your application to the Phoenix lockbox.       

If you live in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands,      

USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Step 2.

Receive your EAD. 

USCIS can take 3 months to process an EAD application. You will receive three documents during this time: 

  1. Within 2-4 weeks of sending your application you will receive a form I-797 Notice of Action Receipt Notice in the mail. Use this receipt number to check the Case Status of your application online at www.uscis.gov

  2. Form I-797 Notice of Action Approval Notice

  3. Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) 

Timeline

Timeline
Step 3.

Apply for a Social Security Number (if you don't have one)

An SSN is required by employers to pay you and for tax purposes. Visit our SSN page for more information.

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Once You Have Your J-2 EAD

You cannot work after the EAD card has expired

The length of the EAD usually matches the end date on your Form DS-2019 (but will not exceed 4 years).

You may be able to extend your EAD

Extensions of the EAD are possible, up to the end date of your J-1 spouse’s program. Please note that the extension process also takes an average of 3 months, so plan ahead.

You cannot work if your spouse discontinues their program

If your spouse discontinues his or her program at Columbia or changes to another visa status, your J-2 status and your work authorization is terminated. Your J-2 status is always dependent on the valid J-1 status of the principal visa holder.