Can J-2 Visa Work? A Guide for Spouses and Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors

If you’re the spouse or a dependent child of a J-1 exchange visitor, you might qualify for a J-2 visa to accompany or join your J-1 family member in the United States.

But can you work on a J-2 visa?

Yes, in most cases.

Nevertheless, there are certain requisites and constraints you should be aware of before embarking on a job search.

Can J-2 Visa Work? A Guide for Spouses and Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors
Can J-2 Visa Work? A Guide for Spouses and Dependents of J-1 Exchange Visitors


In this piece, we’ll elucidate everything you need to know about J-2 visa work authorization, encompassing the application process, processing duration, and the scope of permissible employment.

How to Apply for J-2 Work Permission

Initiating work on a J-2 visa commences with procuring an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The EAD, a laminated card, bears your name, photograph, and the expiration date of your work permit.

To apply for an EAD, complete and submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Additionally, you must furnish supporting documents, including:

  • A duplicate of your valid J-2 visa and passport
  • A copy of your Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status
  • A copy of your J-1 family member’s valid J-1 visa and passport
  • A copy of your J-1 family member’s Form DS-2019
  • A written declaration from your J-1 family member attesting to their good standing in the exchange program and their endorsement of your employment
  • A personal statement elucidating your motivation to work and how the earnings will be allocated for your own expenses, distinct from supporting the J-1 family member
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • A check or money order covering the filing fee ($410 as of 2023)

Send your application package to the USCIS address aligned with your state of residence. Refer to the USCIS website1 for the appropriate address.

How Long Does It Take to Get a J-2 Visa Work Permit?

The processing period for an EAD application fluctuates based on USCIS workload and other variables.

According to USCIS, the average processing time for Form I-765 was 4.5 months as of September 2023.

Nonetheless, some applicants may receive their EAD sooner or later than the average.

You can monitor the status of your application online using your receipt number.

Upon receipt of your EAD via mail, you can commence employment in the United States.

However, exercise caution regarding the expiration date of your work permit. Your EAD remains valid only until the conclusion date on your Form DS-2019 or until the termination date on your EAD card, whichever comes first.

Should you wish to sustain employment beyond that date, apply for an EAD extension no less than 90 days before its expiration.

You may pursue extensions as needed up until the culmination of your J-2 status.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Do on a J-2 Visa?

A noteworthy advantage of working on a J-2 visa is the absence of constraints regarding specific employers or job types.

You’re at liberty to engage in full-time or part-time employment across any sector or industry, provided it’s lawful and adheres to the stipulations of your visa status.

You’re also at liberty to switch jobs without notifying USCIS or securing a new EAD.

However, there are certain activities prohibited on a J-2 visa:

  • Self-employment or entrepreneurship is not permitted
  • Independent contracting or freelancing is prohibited
  • Employment with an employer failing to comply with labor regulations or tax obligations is forbidden
  • Work requiring a professional license or certification that you lack is not allowed
  • Engaging in employment conflicting with the aims or objectives of your J-1 family member’s exchange program is proscribed


Working on a J-2 visa offers an invaluable chance to acquire skills, experience, and income while residing in the United States with your J-1 family member.

Nonetheless, adherence to the protocols for obtaining and upholding your work authorization is imperative.

If you have queries or uncertainties regarding J-2 visa employment, it’s advisable to seek counsel from an immigration attorney or a designated sponsor prior to EAD application or acceptance of a job offer

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