The dependent spouse or partner and children of any Exchange Visitor (J-1) in the United States may be present in the U.S. in J-2 status. Each individual in J-2 status must have their own DS-2019, with which to apply for a J-2 visa at the U.S. consulate.
The lawful immigration status of all J-2 dependents is connected to the lawful status of the primary J-1 visa holder. If a J-1 visa holder is granted a program extension, all J-2 dependents are granted the extension automatically. If the J-1 Exchange Visitor scholar falls out of status, the J-2 dependents are also out of status.
Community Resources for J-2 Dependents
The J-2 Dependents can access many resources on campus to enrich their experience at Notre Dame. A list can be found at Resources for International Spouses.
Health Insurance Requirement
In order to maintain status, the J-2 dependents must also maintain health and accident insurance coverage for the duration of the Exchange Visitor's program, per the requirements outlined on the DS-2019.
The J-2 dependents may depart and re-enter the United States with proper documentation, including a valid passport, a valid DS-2019 and unexpired J-2 visas during the Exchange Visitor's program and during any period of authorized Academic Training.
J-2 dependent spouses or partners can engage in part-time or full-time study. J-2 dependent children may attend kindergarten through 12th grade full time.
If the J-2 dependent wants to apply for a driver's license, the J-1 Exchange Visitor must accompany them to the BMV. Both the J-1 student and J-2 dependent must bring all the required documents, including the signed DS-2019, a valid passport and visa, proof of residence, and an SSN card or Letter of SSN eligibility. For more information on driving, review Driving in the U.S.
Social Security Number
J-2 dependents are not eligible for social security numbers (SSN) unless they apply for work authorization and begin employment. If a J-2 dependent would like to apply for an Indiana driver's license but not for work authorization, they can apply for a Letter of Social Security Number Ineligibility and submit that. If the J-2 dependent does apply for work authorization, they must wait until they have the EAD card and employment before applying for the SSN.
Employment Authorization for J-2 Spouse or Partner
A J-2 spouse or partner may obtain employment authorization by applying for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The EAD is a work permit that allows the J-2 spouse to work full or part-time in any field. The J-2's employment cannot be used to support the principal Exchange Visitor (J-1). J-2 spouses may not work without an EAD issued by USCIS.
J-2 Employment Application Process
To apply for employment authorization, the J-2 dependent must submit the application packet to the USCIS Lockbox facility that has jurisdiction over the area in which the dependent resides. The application packet contains the following documents:
- completed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
- J-2 dependents are category (c)(5)
- They can apply for an SSN on the I-765.
- I-765 filing fee (currently $410.00 USD) – check, money order or credit card payment payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- two passport style photos
- letter from the J-2 dependent that includes a statement that the employment will not serve to support the principal J-1 exchange visitor
- copies of J-1 exchange visitor’s financial support documents (used to verify that J-2 employment is not necessary to support principal J-1 exchange visitor)
- copies of the J-2 dependent spouse’s:
- DS-2019 form
- valid Passport (biographical page)
- I-94 record
- Copies of any previously issued Employment Authorization Documents
- copies of the principal J-1 Exchange Visitor's:
- DS-2019 form(s)
- Passport (biographical page)
- I-94 record
The J-2 dependent initiates the application by mailing the above documentation with the I-765 application to USCIS at one of the listed filing locations (see under "Foreign Students").
ISSA can provide a courtesy review of the I-765 application, but it is the J-2's responsibility to submit a complete and accurate application to USCIS.
Special Notes about J-2 Employment Authorization
- Current USCIS processing time is approximately 3-5 months.
- Employment authorization is granted for employment for any number of hours per week.
- Employment authorization is granted in 12-month intervals and is renewable for the duration of the primary J-1 student’s program and any subsequent Academic Training.
- Employment does not need to be related to any field of study.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Employment may not begin until J-2 dependent receives EAD and start date has been reached.