Skip to main content




  • J-2 dependent family members may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to accept employment on the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; a job offer is not required and a Social Security Number (SSN) can also be requested with this form. 

  • If approved, the J-2 will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with no work restrictions.

  • The EAD is an identification card with your photograph, signature, and expiration date of your permission to work; the EAD is not valid for traveling outside the U.S. and re‑entering.

  • The employment must not be used to support the J-1 principal or the J-2 dependent(s), however, as regulations require the J-1 have enough funds to support themselves and any dependents without requiring family members to work.

  • It is taking USCIS 8 to 13 months to issue an EAD, both initial and extension, and one is not allowed to work based on a receipt notice evidencing application for the EAD, so plan accordingly:

    Note that any work done on U.S. soil will require an EAD, even if the employer and/or payment mechanism is abroad.  Minor children interested in working are also subject to additional state requirements.

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  • Be sure to download the current form at Do not use an outdated version.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 & 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

Please include the following items and mail the package to the USCIS Service Center at the address listed below:

  • A cover letter requesting work permission (see sample)
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. It is available at the USCIS web site at
  • 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 (any document containing foreign language to USCIS must be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator's certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language to English)
  • Check or money order in the amount of $410 made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”
  • Two U.S.-style passport photos
  • Copy of current EAD card (front & back) if you are applying for an extension

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 )

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 typically begin with three letters followed by numbers. Keep the original receipt in a safe place. This is the only way you will be able to track your application.

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:

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 at least 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 U.S., 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 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 & Programs Office at, or (858) 534-3730, if you would like an advisor to review the completed application prior to submission.