J-2 Work Permission
Update: Judge Blocks USCIS Fee Increases
On September 29, 2020, a federal judge blocked the implementation of USCIS fee increases that were to take effect on October 2, 2020. Current fees remain in place until further legal action on this case.
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.
Want to learn more?
For an overview of the process and documents, watch our short video below!
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.
- Original Form G-1145 to allow USCIS to notify you when they accept your application (not a copy)
- Use our sample form (new sample in progress) as a guide to complete your I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Always download the I-765 from this USCIS link for the current version. USCIS will reject applications with older versions of the I-765. When you’re finished, print and sign with dark blue or black ink.
- $410 USCIS fee. Pay with personal check from a U.S. checking account, cashier's check from a bank, or money order, payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Write "USCIS I-765" in the memo line (use our sample personal check as a guide). We do not recommend using the Credit Card form G-1450 due to reported issues.
- Copies of Forms DS-2019 (current and all previous) of both you and the J-1 student or scholar.
- Copy of Passport biographical data for both you and the J-1 student or (valid at least 6 months into the future)
- Photocopies of your most recent J-1 and J-2 visa pages (Canadians are exempt). If you changed your status to J-1/J-2 in the U.S. and don't have a visa, include your Change of Status approval notice.
- Copy of your most recent I-94 arrival record and the J-1 student or scholar's I-94 record (click “Get Most Recent I-94” at i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
- Two U.S. passport style photos using standards from the Department of State website and be aware that  photos cannot be more than 30 days old when you send the application and  you should write your name on the back of each photo in pencil.  You can take your photos at UPS Stores (603 West 115th Street & 42 Tiemann Place), among other places.
- A brief cover letter to explain why you are applying for permission to work. Here is a Sample Letter you may use as a guide.
- Photocopy of both sides of any previously issued EAD card(s). (Only if re-applying for J-2 work permission.)
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,
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
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,
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Waiting for your EAD
USCIS can take 3 - 5 months or more to process an EAD application. You will receive three documents during this time:
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 uscis.gov
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!
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). Be sure to check that all the information is correct and if there are any errors, contact USCIS immediately.
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 3-5 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.