J-2 dependent family members may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to accept employment.  The employment must not be used to support the J-1 principal or the J-2 dependent(s). Rather, the employment must be used by the J-2 as a way of occupying their time during their stay here, exercising their skills, knowledge, and abilities, or learning new skills.  If permission is granted, you may work part-time or full‑time, at any job, for any employer, and there are no limits to the amount that you may earn.  You do not need a job offer in order to apply for employment authorization. You may begin to work when you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS.  The EAD is an identification card with your photograph, signature, and expiration date of your permission to work.  An EAD card is valid only for employment, not for traveling outside the U.S. and re‑entering. It may take up to 90 days for USCIS to process the application.

Application Process

Guidelines for cover letter The cover letter needs to include the following:

  • Statement that you are the J-2 dependent of a scholar (include the J-1 principal’s name) and that you wish to apply for employment authorization.
  • The source and amount of the J-1’s financial support.
  • The reason you wish to be employed (e.g.: to cover travel expenses for touring, to keep your skill sets maintained, to learn new sets of skills)
  • A statement that any income earned is not needed for the support of the J-1 student/scholar.

Guidelines for Completing Form I-765

  • Be sure to download the current form at www.uscis.gov/i-765. Do not use an outdated version.
  • At “I am applying for:” in first section of form, Check “Permission to accept employment” box for initial application, or check “Renewal of my permission to accept employment” if requesting to renew EAD card
  • Question 1: Family Name should be in capital letters.
  • Question 2: Enter other names only if you’ve applied for other benefits with USCIS using a different name in previous stay in the U.S.
  • Question 3: Enter local mailing address. Receipt and approval notices will be sent to this address.
  • Question 9: Enter your SSN (only if you have one from a previous stay in the U.S.)
  • Question 10: Enter the 11-digit number on your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
  • Question 11: Include documentation (approval notices or EAD card (front & back) from previous authorization).
  • Which USCIS Office? This refers to the processing center where your EAD card was originally submitted.  For California: California Service Center.
  • Dates: You may enter receipt date on Receipt Notice.  Month and Year is acceptable.
  • Question 12: See entry stamp or your I-94 record.
  • Question 13: Enter airport city and state which you last entered (also on entry stamp, if legible).
  • Question 14: Enter “J-2 Exchange Visitor Dependent” unless you initially entered the U.S. in a different immigration status and received an approval for Change of Status to J-2 inside the U.S.  If so, indicate the status in which you initially entered.  Any change is recorded on the approval notice sent by USCIS (Form I-797).
  • Question 15: Enter “J-2 Exchange Visitor Dependent.”
  • Question 16: Enter “(C)” in the first space, and “(5)” in the second space; the last space will remain blank.
  • Certification: Sign the form and keep your signature within the space provided. Do not sign outside of the lines. Otherwise, your application will be returned to you.

Guidelines for application package Gather all your documents and be sure to clearly label J-1 documents and J-2 documents.  Remember to keep photocopies of your entire application packet for your records.  Please call the International Students and Programs Office at (858) 534-3730 to schedule an appointment with an advisor if you would like your application to be reviewed.

Mailing Your EAD Application

Mailing Address – For California residents only.  Please see other state’s locations at www.uscis.gov
Mail the original packet at your local post office via certified mail, return receipt requested so the post office will notify you when USCIS receives your package.

Copy of J-2 dependent’s:

Copy of J-1’s:

  • Copy of J-1’s funding statement (e.g, bank statement, fellowship letter, etc.)
  • Copy of marriage certificate (accompanied by an unofficial English translation)

Mailing Form I-765 Directly to USCIS

Please include the following items and mail the package to the USCIS Service Center:

  • A cover letter requesting work permission (see sample attached)
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. It is available at the USCIS web site at www.uscis.gov
  • Copy of J-2 dependent’s immigration documents:
    • I-94 record (front & back if you have a paper card)
    • DS-2019 form
    • Passport
    • Visa stamp in passport
    • I-797 Approval Notice (for dependents who have changed their status to J-2 within the U.S.)
  • Copy of J-1 immigration documents:
      • I-94 record (front & back if you have a paper card)
      • DS-2019 form
      • Passport
      • J-1 Visa stamp in passport
      • I-797 Approval Notice (for principals who have changed their status to J-1 within the U.S.)
  • Copy of J-1 principal’s funding documentation (e.g, bank statement, fellowship letter, employment verification, etc.)
  • Copy of marriage certificate (accompanied by certified translation into English if in another language)
  • Provide check or money order in the current amount listed on the USCIS website to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • Provide two U.S.-style passport photos 

Mailing Address (for California residents)

Mail your entire package via certified mail, return receipt requested so the post office will notify you when USCIS receives your package. If you use the U.S. Postal Service, mail to the Phoenix Lockbox:


PO Box 21281

Phoenix, AZ 85036

NOTE: Do not use the PO Box address listed above if you are sending your package via FEDEX, Express mail or courier services. Send your package to:

Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

(If you live in another state, please see other mailing addresses at www.uscis.gov )

If you would like to receive and e-mail and/or text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted, complete a Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Pending EAD Application

USCIS will send a receipt confirming that they received your application within 7-10 business days. Your receipt will have a “WAC #”.  Keep the original receipt in a safe place. This is the only way you will be able to track your application at the California Service Center.

Checking the Status of your application: You can check the status of your EAD application at the USCIS Web site. You will need to enter the WAC number on your USCIS receipt. Go to: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do

Travel: International travel is not recommended while the J-2 EAD application is pending at USCIS.  The application could be denied since the applicant does not hold a U.S. immigration status while abroad and is therefore ineligible for any status-associated benefits, including the EAD.

Extension of EAD

The USCIS can authorize J-2 employment until the end date on Form DS-2019.  You may apply for an extension to work longer if the Form DS-2019 is extended. Instructions on how to apply for an extension of your J-2 employment can be found on the USCIS website.

You should request an extension of your EAD three to four months before it expires because you may not continue to legally work if your EAD card has expired, even if you have filed an extension with USCIS.

Social Security Number

All persons must have a Social Security Number (SSN) to be employed in the US; however, you may not apply for an SSN until you have the EAD in hand.  To apply for an SSN, bring your passport, I-94 record, DS-2019 and your EAD to any Social Security Administration office. Visit www.ssa.gov to find the nearest Social Security office to you.

Sample Cover Letter

(your street address) (city, state, zip code) (today’s date)

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (street address) (city, state, zip code)

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to apply for J-2 work permission. I am the J-2 dependent of [_____________] (give spouse’s or parent’s name), a J-1 [_________] (student/researcher/professor) at the University of California, San Diego.  As my spouse’s (or parent’s) DS-2019 shows, s/he receives [_______] (give amount, for example $20,000 per year) in support from [___________] (give source).  This shows that we have enough money to support my [spouse/parent]. I would like to earn money to pay for [e.g., my extensive dental work; or need money for the children’s piano/gymnastic/aquatic lessons; to attend the San Diego symphony/the Charger’s football games to experience American culture; to attend professional conferences in the U.S.; we, as a family, would like to travel to see the Grand Canyon].

Any income I earn will not be used for support of my husband/wife/parent.


(your signature) (your name)


Please contact the International Students and Programs Office at istudents@ucsd.edu, or (858) 534-3730, if you would like an advisor to review the completed application prior to submission.