J-2 Work Permission


J-2 nonimmigrants (dependents of J-1 nonimmigrants) may apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to work. When granted, this permission is valid for on- and off-campus work and may be full or part time. This permission is obtained by mailing certain documents to USCIS. It may take 90 days or more for the application to be processed. If approval is granted, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You must have the EAD before you begin work.


Step 1: Write Letter Requesting Work Permission

How do I start the J-2 Work Permission process?

J-2 dependents requesting work permission must first write a letter addressed to USCIS requesting work permission. This letter must be included with the required documents listed in Step 2 to complete the J-2 Work Permission application. The letter should include the following details:

  • Names of the J-1 and J-2 nonimmigrants
  • Reasons for employment
  • Source and amount of support for the principal J-1
  • Specific statement that any income derived from employment will be used to support dependents and not to support the J-1 principal
  • Yearly budget that shows total income and expenditures for the family


Step 2: Application to USCIS

ISSO recommends you include the following documents in the application:

  • Two identical, passport style photographs taken within the past 30 days
  • Payment of $410
    • Personal check or money order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or
    • Form G-1450 authorizing credit card payment. The form, instructions and additional information are found on the USCIS Website
    • Completed Form I-765. The form, instructions, filing fee and additional information are found on the USCIS Website
    • Completed Form G-1145. The form, instructions and additional information are found on the USCIS Website.
    • Letter requesting work permission and budget
    • J-1 financial documentation (recommended)
    • Photocopy of the following immigration documents:
      • Most recent DS-2019
      • Passport biographical page (and page that shows expiration)
      • U.S. Visa page
      • I-94 record


Step 3: Mailing Application

Follow the steps below to ensure your application is properly mailed to USCIS:

  1. Put the final application together in the order listed above, ensuring the passport photos and check are on top
  2. Review the final application to ensure there are no errors and all documents are signed
  3. Mail by Fed Ex to the appropriate address found on the  USCIS website.


Pending J-2 Work Permission Application

Can I work while my J-2 Work Permission application is pending?

No, J-2 dependents cannot work until they possess an EAD from USCIS.


How will I know if USCIS has received my application?

USCIS will send an email and/or text message. USCIS will also send the official I-797 Receipt Notice to the address listed on the Form I-765. It can take approximately 2 weeks to receive the email or text message from the date the OPT application is received. If the applicant has not received an email or text message after 2 weeks, they should first contact their bank to ask if their check for the J-2 Work Permission application fee has been cashed by USCIS.


What if there is an error on my receipt notice?

Follow the instructions on the I-797 Receipt Notice from USCIS.



When can I work?

Dependents cannot work until the start date listed on the EAD card.


What are the limitations for J-2 employment?

J-2 dependents with approved work authorization are permitted to work in any job, full time or part time.


How long is the EAD card valid?

The EAD card is valid for one year and can be renewed by resubmitting a new J-2 Work Permission application to USCIS.


When should I apply for renewal of my EAD?

Dependents wishing to renew their EAD can apply for an EAD up to 180 days before the end date of their EAD. Dependents are encouraged to apply for renewal at least 90 days before the end date on the EAD to reduce minimize risks in having a gap in employment. If working at ISU, dependents must complete the Form I-9 in ISSO at 3248 Memorial Union.

Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions is intended for general information and guidance. Please carefuly review the informaton found on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for possible updates or changes to this type of request