Application Materials:

Sample Letter

Form I-765 & Instructions

Form G-1145


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

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 (see sample) that shows total income and expenditures for the family

Step 2: Application to USCIS

J-2 dependents who hold a DS-2019 issued by Iowa State University are encouraged to make an appointment with an International Student Advisor to review documents for the final J-2 Work Permission application. J-2 dependents whose DS-2019 is not held by Iowa State University should consult with their sponsoring agency or a qualified and competent immigration attorney for assistance. 

Application Materials

The following documents are submitted to USCIS:

  • Two identical, passport style photographs taken within the past 30 days
  • Payment of $520 for the paper application
    • Personal check or money order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Completed Form I-765
  • Completed Form G-1145
  • Letter requesting work permission and budget
  • J-1 financial documentation (recommended)
  • Photocopy of the following immigration documents for J-1 student and J-2 dependent:
    • Most recent DS-2019
    • Passport biographical page (and page that shows expiration)
    • U.S. Visa page
    • I-94 record
    • Marriage certificate (include translation if not in English)

Step 3: Mailing Application

Prepare your application for mailing by doing the following:

  • Put the final application together in the order listed above, ensuring the passport photos and check are on top
  • Review the final application to ensure there are no errors and all documents are signed
  • Send a scanned copy of the completed application to ISSO at
    • Include copies of all documents included in the final application as ISSO would need to reference these if USCIS sends a Request for Evidence (RFE) to follow-up on the J-2 Work Permission application
  • Mail by Fed Ex to the appropriate address found here.

Pending J-2 Work Permission Application

Employment While Pending

J-2 dependents cannot work without valid authorization. J-2s without a valid EAD must wait until they receive the new EAD from USCIS.

Receipt Notice

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. Second, if necessary, contact ISSO by email at

Error on Receipt Notice

ISSO can request a correction to the receipt. A correction can help ensure that there is no error printed on the EAD card. If there is an error on the receipt notice, contact the ISSO at


Beginning Work

Dependents cannot work until the start date listed on the EAD card and until they have the EAD card in their possession. 

J-2 Employment Limitations

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

EAD Validity

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

Timeline for EAD Renewal

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. As this information can quickly become outdated or may not apply to your situation, please consult with an International Student Advisor in the International Students and Scholars Office regarding your individual questions.