Guide to J-2 Employment Authorization


This guide provides instructions for J-2 visa holders, spouses, and dependent children of J-1s seeking to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). To obtain an EAD, you must mail the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) a Form I-765 and additional documentation. Please note that this is merely a guide and that the USCIS exclusively manages the process.

Example of the most recent EAD card provided by USCIS. It has an ID picture on the left side, a drawing of an eagle on the right side, and ID information in the middle.
An example of the most recent EAD card provided by USCIS

General Information

The EAD allows J-2s to work in any job, full-time or part-time. The USCIS does not grant EADs if the employment is for the economic support of the J-1. Therefore, any income generated must be for your personal and recreational use, such as entertainment and travel. An offer letter is unnecessary for you to begin this process, but to apply, you need to be physically in the United States, and travel is not recommended if the process is ongoing.

The USCIS takes an average of three to five months to process applications, but timelines are subject to change. Work authorization is generally granted to the end date of the current DS-2019. EADs can be renewed if the J-1’s Form DS-2019 is extended, but the J-2 must file a new Form I-765. Employment can only begin after the J-2 has received the EAD in the mail.

Any income earned by a J-2 is subject to federal and state income taxes and Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). You can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) through the Form I-765 or in person. If you plan on the latter, you cannot apply until you have received your EAD. Please remember that this would be a separate process that can take up to three additional months. For more information on SSN issuance, visit

Example of a Social Security Card, provided by USCIS. It says Social Security in the top and VOID across the middle.
Example of a Social Security Card is provided by USCIS.

Step One: Filling Out the Form I-765

The Form I-765 is a document found on the USCIS I-765 website. It is divided into several categories because all qualifying statuses can use it to request an EAD. J-2s fall under “Spouse or Minor Child of an Exchange Visitor (c)5.”

Important: Applicants in the (c)5 category cannot apply using the online form; you must send a printed copy of every document required. USCIS can update the process anytime, and the official USCIS information and instructions will always prevail.

First, You must print, fill out, and properly sign Form I-765 in black ink. You may also fill it out online, print it, and sign it. You are the only person who has to complete the form, and it does not require information from an employer.

Step Two: Gathering Additional Documentation

In addition to your printed, filled, and signed Form I-765, you will need to submit:

  1. A printed copy of the J-1 and J-2's latest Form I-94.

  2. A printed copy of the J-1 and the J-2's most recent Form DS-2019.

  3. Printed scans of both the J-1 and J-2's passport biography pages.

  4. Printed scans of most recent U.S. visas in the J-1 and the J-2 passports

  5. A printed, written statement requesting J-2 work authorization. Here is a sample letter provided by ISSS

  6. A printed scan of proof of marriage to the J-1 visa holder (e.g., a scanned marriage license). If proof of marriage is not in English, provide a certified translation.

  7. Two passport-sized pictures that follow the U.S. passport photo specifications.

  8. If this is an extension application, a scan of the J-2's previous EAD.

All information must be legible and clear. Failure to do so can end in denial or a request for further evidence. We recommend providing high-quality scans and saving copies of each document for future reference.

Step Three: Paying the Filing Fee

You must pay a filing fee when you send in the physical copies of your Form I-765 and additional documentation. For this application, you do not need to attend or pay for a biometrics service fee unless told otherwise by the USCIS.

You can pay with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. Fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of any action the USCIS takes on your application. Please find further instructions on payment options on the USCIS Filing Fees website.

Step 4: Mailing Your Application

You must mail the completed materials to the USCIS to complete the application process. You must mail your application to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox if you are in Tennessee. Please note the two different addresses depending on the shipping method used.

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

Attn: NFB
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266-0867

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: NFB (Box 660867)
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067-8003

Please ensure that your Return Address is still valid by your document's estimated arrival time. If you are moving soon, you will have to update your address in your USCIS profile. After you pay for the shipping, save the receipt and tracking number. Find official tips for filing forms by mail on the official USCIS website.

Step 5: Checking Your Case and Tracking Your EAD

Please remember that the general processing time for a J-2 EAD can take three to five months, but timelines are subject to change. To check the USCIS' progress on your case, log in to your USCIS account and search for “Case History” under “Your Cases.”

After your EAD has been shipped, you can also track the package by logging in to your USCIS account and searching for “Your Cases,” but this time, it will be under “Case Status.”

For further information, please refer back to our resource list.