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J-2 Dependents

The spouse and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of the Exchange Visitor are eligible for the dependent status, the J-2 status. J-2 documentation for family members may only be issued only if the funding for their support and required health insurance is adequate.

Dependents accompanying J-1 either on initial entry or at a later date (travelling separately) will have a SEVIS record created, and will be issued a DS-2019 form.

J-2 dependents are required to have insurance that meets the same Department of State standards as J-1 Exchange Visitors. Please view Health Insurance for more information.

Employment of J-2 Dependents

J-2 dependents are eligible to apply to USCIS for employment authorization so long as the employment is not for the purpose of supporting the J-1. J-2 dependents may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS in order to be employed in the United States. The J-2 may begin employment only after receiving the EAD from USCIS. The application consists of the following:

  • Form I-765
  • Form I-765 fee
  • 2 photos
  • Copy of the current DS-2019 of the J-2
  • Copy of the current DS-2019 of the J-1
  • Copies of Forms I-94 for both the J-1 and J-2
  • Letter form the J-2 stating why the employment is desired, indicating the source and amount of support for the principal participant, and specifically stating that the income derived from employment will not be used for the support of the J-1 Exchange Visitor. A J-2 does not need to demonstrate financial need to receive employment authorization.

If permission for employment is granted, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is issued and is valid for any kind full-time or part-time employment for the period of time stated on the EAD. USCIS practice is to limit issuance of all EADs to no more than 1 year at a time. In any case, J-2 employment authorization may not exceed the program duration indicated on the principal's DS -2019. In addition, the J-2 employment authorization is valid only if the J-1 is maintaining status.

Extension of J-2 Employment

A J-2 spouse or dependent child must file Form I-765 with all supporting documentation each time an extension of employment authorization is necessary. Since the EAD cannot be issued for longer than the validity of the DS-2019, any necessary extension of stay of the J-1 must be processed prior to the application for extension of J-2 employment authorization.

In order to avoid interruptions in J-2 employment authorization, it is important to file the Form I-765 for extension of employment authorization sufficiently in advance (but no more than 120 days in advance) so that the extension application is approved before the expiration of the current grant of authorization. J-2 employment authorization expires with the expiration of the EAD, and the mere filing of an application for new authorization does not permit employment during the adjudication process. If the current EAD has expired, the J-2 must cease employment until receiving the new EAD

Taxes and I-9 Compliance

Unlike J-1 exchange visitors, J-2 dependents are subject to Social Security taxes. They are also subject to federal income taxes, and where applicable, state income taxes. [See IRS publication 519, United States Tax Guide for Aliens.]

Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, lists the unexpired Employment Authorization Document as a document that establishes both identity and employment eligibility for use in List A.

Obtaining a Social Security Number

A J-2 dependent will not be able to obtain a Social Security number unless in possession of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Study in J-2 Status

There is no regulatory restriction on study for J-2 dependents

Extension of Stay

J-2 dependents are covered by the extension of stay granted to the principal J-1 participant. However, the new J-2 DS-2019s do not automatically print out with the J-1's form. To generate the dependent forms, go into Reprint, and select other as the reprint reason, and give the reason "extend on-going program."

Travel Abroad and Reentry

A J-2 dependent who wishes to travel outside the United States for a temporary visit and to reenter the country follows the same procedures as a J-1 principal participant. Proper documentation to reenter the United States includes:

  • A valid passport and J-2 visa; and
  • A currently valid SEVIS Form DS-2019 issued in the name of the J-2 dependent, properly endorsed for travel by the RO/ARO

The same regulations and procedures for automatic extension of visas apply to the J-2 dependent as to the J-1 principal participant.

Remaining in the U.S. During Travel of J-1

A special situation arises when the principal J-1 participant travels outside the United States, leaving the J-2 dependent(s) in the United States. Since the dependent's stay in the United States is valid only while the J-1 participant maintains status here, it is not legitimate for the dependent to remain in the United States while the J-1 exchange visitor is absent from the country for any significant period of time. This period is not specified in the regulations. Circumstances such as continued enrollment for students or continued employment for scholars during the period of absence should be taken into account.

DOS has stated that for J program purposes, the J-1 principal remains in valid "program status" during a short absence, provided the DS-2019 is valid and has been signed for re-entry. In addition, the activity abroad must relate to the purpose of the program in the United States [NAFSA-USIA liaison meeting, December 9, 1996]. Neither USCIS nor DOS provide regulatory guidance for J exchange visitors in this situation.

Departure or Termination of Program

A J-2 dependent's status terminates in the United States when that of the J-1 participant terminates. The dependent reports his or her departure from the United States in the same way as the J-1 participant, by surrendering Form I-94 at the time of departure. Program sponsors have no special responsibilities for reporting departure or termination of program for the J-2 dependent as they do for the J-1 participant.

J-2s and Derivative Restrictions

J-2 dependents are derivatively subject to some restrictions applied to J-1s.

J-2 is derivatively subject to 212(e) if J-1 is subject.

If the J-1 principal participant is subject to the 212(e) 2-year home country physical presence requirement, his or her J-2 dependent spouse and children are automatically subject to that requirement as well.

Waiver of Home Residence Requirement for Dependents

Waivers for J-1 exchange visitors cover J-2 dependents, unless those dependents have a separate home residence requirement based on their own previous J-1 status.

Independent Waiver for J-2 Dependent

In some cases, a J-2 can get a waiver independently. In the event of divorce or death of the J-1, DOS will consider acting as an interested government agency and recommending the waiver based on humanitarian considerations. Occasionally, a J-2 child can obtain a waiver, for example if he or she marries or turns 21.

Bars on Beginning a New Program as a J-1 Professor or Research Scholar

J-2s may be subject to the 12-month bar on eligibility to participate in a J-1 professor or research scholar program

Prior physical presence in the United States in J-2 status may subject the individual to the 12-month bar on eligibility to participate in a J-1 professor or research scholar program.

J-2 Dependent of J-1 Professor or Research Scholar Subject to 24-Month Bar

DOS has stated that a J-2 dependent of a J-1 professor or research scholar is subject to the 24-month bar on repeat participation in those categories, along with the J-1.

J-2s and changes of status

Change of status from J-2

Restrictions and procedures for a J-2 wishing to change status to another nonimmigrant category are the same as those followed by the J-1 principal, although in addition to documenting that the J-2 has maintained status, the J-2 should also submit proof that the J-1 has maintained status.

Change of status to J-2

In the case of a dependent changing status to J-2 concurrently with his or her spouse applying for J-1 status, a dependent SEVIS DS-2019 is created along with the principal's DS-2019, and the dependent's information is included on Form I-539 Supplement.

To apply for change to J-2 status if the principal is already in J-1 status, the spouse or dependent submits a completed Form I-539 and fee to the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the place of residence, including an original dependent SEVIS Form DS-2019, the dependent or spouse's original Form I-94 card, photocopies of the J-1's Form I-94 and DS-2019, and documentation of sufficient funding for the J-2. USCIS action will be noted on the I-94 issued as part of the I-797 Notice of Action.