Employment Overview for Dependents (Spouses/Partners)

Some spouses are eligible to apply for a work permit.

Employment Overview
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Spouse/ Partners Employment Overview

Only certain visa types are eligible to work:

* Individuals in H-4 status can apply for employment authorization in limited circumstances described here by USCIS

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How to Apply for J-2 Work Permission

J Exchange Visitor regulations allow a J-2 dependent to apply to USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) for a work permit. The EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) allows you unrestricted work, full-time or part-time. You must be in the U.S. in J-2 status when you submit the application.

The purpose for applying for permission to work cannot be to to support the expenses of the J-1 principal. Rather, the income must be for other reasons such as J-2 career advancement, or for family's recreational and cultural activities. 

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

Mail your Employment Authorization 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.

J-2 Employment Authorization Application Checklist

** Be very careful that your application is complete before you mail it! USCIS can deny your application if it's missing any required documentation without sending you an RFE (Request for Evidence) Read more.

Want a printable version? Download our J-2 Employment Authorization 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:

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, 

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,      

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

Step 2.

Waiting for your EAD

USCIS can take 3 - 5 months to process an EAD application. You will receive three documents during this time: 

  1. Within 2-4 weeks you will receive a form I-797 Notice of Action which is a receipt notice. Use this receipt number to check the status of your application online at www.uscis.gov

  2. Form I-797 Notice of Action. This is your approval notice informing you that your EAD has been approved and will be sent to you separately by the U.S. Postal Service, so check your mail!

  3. Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Be sure to check that all the information is correct and if there are any errors, contact USCIS immediately. 
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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 on the Form DS-2019. 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 immigration status, your J-2 status and your work authorization are terminated. Your J-2 status is always dependent on the valid J-1 status of the principal.